Whether by the cruel hand of fate or by the universe’s grand design, pets never usually outlive their owners. This leaves many pet-lovers with the weight of knowing that, sooner or later, they must say goodbye for the final time. It doesn’t help that there’s still so much unknown about death, and equally life, but as sure as the Sun comes up each day, grief will affect all of us, but so too will that grief pass — no feeling is forever.
Because so much is left unknown, there are plenty of myths and misconceptions surrounding the departure of a loved pet and how that trauma affects us; even in this day and age. Today, we’ll be dispelling some of them!
There is nothing special about the relationship between animals and humans.
This is simply and unequivocally not true. Your relationship with a pet can be just as special and loving as those you have with any other family member or friend. Loving an animal is different to loving a human, of course, but the bond between pet and owner goes as far back as the discovery of fire.
Losing an animal is less painful and less important than losing a human loved one.
Again, not true. Pain over the loss of a beloved animal is as natural as the pain you would feel over the loss of any person in your life. Pets find their way into every aspect of our daily routine, so it can be even more difficult to cope after losing them.
Having close relationships with animals (and grieving at their loss) is abnormal and unnatural.
No, it really isn’t. Never let anyone influence you to believe that your relationships with animals are wrong or less important than those you have with humans. Sharing your love with an animal teaches us to better love all living things, including humans. Grief is a normal response to losing someone and grief is indifferent to species. Love is love, loss is loss, and pain is, unfortunately, pain. But, as my Grandmother used to say, “time is the healer of all wounds”.
The death of a pet can be a useful “dress rehearsal” for the real thing, especially for children.
While it’s true that the death of a pet can be a child’s first encounter with loss, it is by no means a ‘dress rehearsal’. Quite suddenly, friendship, companionship, loyalty, support and unconditional love are replaced with overwhelming feelings of loss, confusion, emptiness, fear and grief. For most children, the loss of a family pet is a profoundly painful experience.
Euthanasia is a quick and easy way to get rid of sick, dying, old or unwanted animals.
Deciding when and whether to euthanize a beloved pet is one of the most difficult choices an animal lover will ever have to make. On one hand, you know that choosing to end your animal’s life will intensify your own suffering, yet postponing the decision may prolong your animal’s pain needlessly. At such times it is important to explore all aspects of the decision with your veterinarian and with others you trust, to listen to what your animal may be trying to tell you, and to trust your own intuition.
Conducting rituals, funerals or memorial services for dead animals is a waste of time.
The last one on our list and arguably the biggest myth of all. Whether for animals or for humans, death ceremonies and rituals help us to support one another in grief, acknowledge the important role our loved ones played in our lives, honor the memory of our departed companions and bring meaning to our loss. In short, a memorial or service is a great way of telling your body when to begin healing.
Putting myths and falsehoods to one side… the loss of a beloved pet can be one of the most difficult times in our lives. If someone you know has suffered or is currently suffering the loss of a pet; be there for them, offer them your support or time to talk and make sure they have no regrets with their pet. It can be just as devastating as losing a family member. For more information on the services we provide, click here.