Pet Loss Can be Accompanied by Very Strong Emotions
There can be over forty reasons why someone might experience grief and the loss of a pet is certainly one of those reasons. The animals we share our lives with provide us with unconditional love. They can be companions and confidants. They are loyal and there can be an emotional bond that forms which can often exceed the bonds created with the humans in our lives. When a companion animal dies, is stolen, is lost, or runs away the void can often be devastating. Pet loss can be accompanied by very strong emotions and the intensity of this grief can be a new experience for some people. Questions present such as;
- Is it alright to grieve this loss openly and honestly?
- Is there a process that I need to follow, are there stages?
- Is it possible to recover and move forward from this pain?
It is important to know that grief is the normal and natural reaction to an emotional loss, including the loss of your animal companion. The feelings you are experiencing are also normal and natural for you and you should be allowed to express your grieve openly and honestly. There is no right or wrong way to express these emotions and there are certainly no stages through which you must pass in order to process your grief. There are no emotions that are so universal that you, as a pet griever, are expected to experience.
While there are not stages of grief there are emotions or symptoms you may, or may not, experience which can include a lack of concentration, a sense of numbness, a change in your sleeping patterns, a change in your appetite, and a roller-coaster of unexpected and misunderstood emotions. Your reaction to this loss is very personal. No one can know what you are feeling or the depth to which you experience these emotions. Your reaction will be dependent upon your unique relationship with your animal and you may experience something very different with the loss of another pet. Others in the family may not feel your pain on the same level.
The loss of a pet can be difficult for others to understand, especially if they have never shared their lives with a companion animal. Because of this, as a pet griever, you may not be sure where to take your grief. Where you can go to access emotional support. Attending a grief support group, for human loss, may cause you to feel uncomfortable and misunderstood when speaking aloud about your pet in a room of human losses.
The Grief Recovery Institute understands this and offers a Grief Recovery sessions specific to pet loss, one-on-one sessions for pet loss, and a book called The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss written by John James, Cole James, and Russell Friedman.
The Grief Recovery Method can provide a safe environment to discover and recover from your grief. In this environment you have the opportunity to talk and share, uninterrupted without analysis, criticism, or judgement. You are able to discover unfinished business, unsaid communications, and process the pain of your emotional loss.
The Grief Recovery Method is about completing your relationship with your special animal companion. Following this completion you will be able to access and enjoy fond memories of the time you spent together. It allows you to grief the loss of your pet so you are in a better place if you decide to adopt another companion. This allows you to create a unique relationship with your new pet, rather than being in a situation of constant comparison.
You will never replace the loss. As a Grief Recovery Specialist I know that people never get over a loss, but I do know there are tools to access that will allow recovery from your emotional pain. This healing can improve the quality of your life and the life you will share with another animal should you choose to adopt again in the future.
Tammy Adams is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist