This was originally published on Liberal America on May 12, 2016.
I just recently lost my dog, and I still get a lump in my throat just thinking about her. Pets can be great companions; they become just like a family member. Unfortunately, they have short life spans. Losing a pet is a horrible experience.
A 2002 article in the journal, “Society & Animals,” found that the loss of a dog can be just as painful as losing a significant other.
Losing a pet can be very intense for multiple reasons. There is the loss of unconditional love. Pets never judge us. Dogs and cats love us and, in return, we take care of them and love them back. They become an important friend in our lives. They become a constant companion.
Having a pet can be like having a child. We are responsible for feeding and taking care of them. They observe everything we do and love us anyway. Feeding and walking them becomes part of our daily routine; it can be a major adjustment when they’re gone..
Ther can also be the feelings of guilt. “What if I did this?” “If only I had done….”
I had to remind myself often that I was the best pet parent I could be. This is especially difficult when a pet has to be euthanized. A pet owner may wonder if they waited too long, or acted too soon. I tried to just remember all of the good times I had with my baby.
On top of the pain a person suffering this type of loss is dealing with, some people feel the need to dismiss those feelings. They might tell the person grieving, “It’s just a dog, get over it!”
But, there are plenty of support groups out there. After my girl passed, I joined a group for Miniature Pinschers (her breed). Those people knew what I was feeling, and I can see pictures of cute Min Pins that help ease my grief and remind me of happier times with my baby.
For more on dealing with grief during the loss of a pet, see the video below: