Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
No one has taught us how to deal with grief for a pet, or how to say goodbye to someone who has been a part of our family for a long time. Because a dog is not just that and a cat cannot be replaced by another in a matter of days. Each animal occupies a special space in our life, a privileged corner made of memories, routines and looks impossible to forget.
Not long ago Variety magazine reported that in late February Barbra Streisand, unable to bear the loss of her dog Samantha, had decided to clone her. Before the animal died, he had commissioned a clinic to extract DNA from some of the animal's cells; in this way, a few months later there were two clones of his Cotón de Tulear.
“Until you have loved an animal, a part of your soul will always be without light.
To date, the singer says she is waiting for the two puppies to grow up to see if they have the same serenity and intelligence as Samantha. Is this the best way to overcome the loss of your pet?
What is certain is that no one, animal or person, should come to this world with the sole purpose of being a copy of those who are no longer there. Every living being is irreplaceable, unique in its form, exceptional in this story lived with us, in every shared detail… Wanting to repeat this vital narrative makes little sense and gives rise to other very complex ethical-medical dilemmas.
Dealing with the loss of an animal in a healthy way involves adopting several strategies with which accept this absence with courage and, above all, with responsibility.
Mourning for animals in a culture that is too insensitive to them
When we lose a family member, we can ask for a two or three day leave to work. However, many people who experience the loss of their pet in a traumatic way, even more so if you add to this the insensitivity of an environment where there is no lack of phrases such as "but it was just a dog" or "just get another one. ".
On the other hand, there is a fact that is not often talked about and that occurs with great frequency. Pets are now a source of conflict even when a couple breaks up or divorces to the point of going to court. The person who loses a pet, therefore, lives a real mourning, must face a loss that is not at all easy to explain.
As curious as it may be, it should be emphasized that the figure of the "pet loss counselor" (consultant for the loss of pets) is increasingly common in the Anglo-Saxon world. They are psychologists specialized in the human-animal bond, in particular in deaths. They help the patient mourn for pets with the following points.
Various passages of mourning for a pet
Avoid feelings of guilt
Faced with the loss of their pet, many owners feel guilty. We often have the feeling that "we could have done more for them". We must also take into account euthanasia, this usual process by which we sometimes try to free the animal from unnecessary suffering.
In this sense, we banish any shadow of guilt from our heads. Accompanying them in the last moments of life knowing that we cannot do more and letting them go with our affection will help us.
Guilt is one of the main feelings that arise when dealing with grief for a pet.
Each person experiences loss differently
Each family member will experience grief for a pet differently. Understanding and supporting it is essential. Likewise, è important to pay attention to children and the elderly. In the first case, because they can face the experience of loss for the first time. In this case, we would do well to clarify all their doubts with sincerity and dispelling a myth: being small does not make mourning less intense.
In the case of the elderly, these losses often turn out to be traumatic. Animals occupy a significant place in the daily life of older people, and the effect of this vacuum can be more difficult to cushion.
An animal occupies a space in our home, but also in our routine. They are that sincere greeting when we arrive home, that company on the sofa or bed, that restless presence that asks us for food or a walk at a certain time of the day. A first fact that we are forced to face is the void of these interactions throughout the day.
Becoming aware of this and starting other routines or changing previous habits can help us deal with grief for a pet.
Pets do not replace themselves with others
Let's go back to the case of Barbra Streisand. It makes no sense to replace your animal with another one hoping that it is the same as the original: the same character, the same bearing and the same personality. Each animal is unique and it is necessary to take the time to mourn, accept its death, place its memories and its wake in a privileged corner of one's heart and then, if desired, open the door of one's home to a other animal.
Adopting a new pet right away is not the best way to mourn.
In conclusion, the loss of an animal often causes us intense pain that is difficult to manage. There are those who feel alone and misunderstood in their suffering, because they are not saying goodbye to a simple dog, a simple cat, a simple horse or a simple hamster. These are important lives that have accompanied us for a certain period, offering us their best part. So, if you feel the need, seek help to mourn a pet and move on loaded with all your fond memories..