We meet many people throughout our life, some of them only pass by or stick around for short periods of time, and others are there to stay forever. Luckily, our pets belong to the latter.
The unconditional love and the ultimate loyalty and devotion we receive from our pets make them our most precious gifts from God. So, losing them causes feelings of grief and sadness.
The thing is that many pet owners can’t openly speak of the emptiness in their heart after the loss of their tiny friends because those who have never owned any animal may find these grieving strange. They may even say that the devastating owners are overreacting. But that’s only because they were never given the chance to feel the purest form of love, that of an animal.
The thought of being separated from the creature they considered a family and a best friend can be heartbreaking, so whenever you hear of someone who is going through such loss please be supportive and show your compassion.
One of the things you can do is to acknowledge the strength of their bond.
No matter how odd it may sound to some, many people are closer to their pets than to other humans. Honestly, the bond created between owners and animals can only be understood by those who have ever welcomed a pet in their life and got to experience the joy these creatures bring.
Jill S. Cohen is a family grief counselor who explains that the relationship between an animal and a human can be way deeper and more fulfilling than that between humans.
“There is an unconditional love that a pet provides, where often a human relationship does not necessarily provide that. Also, a pet is reliable and has provided the security and stability through the owner’s life which often transcends other relationships. Children may leave home, a spouse may leave or be absent for a period of time. Parents may die. Friendships may drift. But the pet is always there — a source of comfort, a source of continuity in life, of constant companionship, a way for the owner to show love to a living being. A pet also provides a sense of routine for its owner. This may give the owner some consistency in life — feeding, walking, caring for the dog, tending to the pet’s needs. The bond between a human and a pet can sometimes be like none other.”
Another thing you can do to help your friends and loved ones cope with the lose of their pet is to mind your words.
In case you want to comfort someone who is grieving for their pet, you should always choose the right words. First of all, you have to understand that the pet which left this world was never just an animal, but a member of the family, so never say things like “It was just a pet,” or “It’s fine, you can always get another one.”
Just like us humans, every animal is different. They have unique personality, traits, likes and dislikes. So getting a new pet will have a special place in the owner’s heart, but can never replace the one that is gone.
If you want to be supportive but don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. The best thing you can do is listen to what the heartbroken owners have to say.
Maybe you should try to understand the process a bit better.
Grieving is a complex process that goes through several stages and different people mourn differently. That means some may get to their everyday life shortly after losing their pet, but others need weeks or even months to adjust to their new life, that without their little friend by their side.
“Hold a gathering for people who knew your pet and would want to share stories or provide company for you during the beginning days of the loss. Make a photo collage. Frame or share with your friends through email or regular mail. It will tell the story that they may not know about your relationship and love for your pet. Visit friends who have pets and play with the animals. It will bring back the spirit of joy that the animal once provided for you,” Cohen adds.
We truly hope that with your understanding of what these pet owners go through, you will be the reason they heal faster.