Grief is grief…or is it?
I recently commented elsewhere on how I thought funeral homes for pets was going a bit far. Not everyone agreed, but I still think the loss of a pet is qualitatively different from the death of a parent, a spouse, a sibling or a child.
Now before I start hearing from the animal lovers out there, I am too. I am absolutely crazy in love with all of my pets. The companionship of my Golden Retriever, Heidi, is more consistent and reliable than many of the people in my life.
She’s turning 10 in a few months, suffers from arthritis and has already had a bout with cancer. I will be devastated when she dies, but I knew that when I got her as a puppy. I made that choice. I’ve already grieved the loss of 9 other cats and dogs in my lifetime so I am no stranger to losing a pet. It comes with the territory.
Does the loss of a pet need to be grieved? Of course it does, and for each individual it will be different just as each human loss is different. Allowing the grief to lead you in the direction of healing is still the way to go whether the loss is animal or human.
Even though it’s all grief and there may be many similarities, I believe it’s disrespectful to equate the death of any pet no matter how beloved, to the death of a human being.
So this is the first, and the next few posts will probably be the last time, I will talk about the death of a pet. I’m doing it now because it came up elsewhere and maybe we can learn a thing or two by looking at some of the similarities and differences.
Just for the record, I also don’t talk here about the grief of divorce, infertility, and miscarriages…all of which can be devastatingly painful. Neither do I talk about the grief of addicts giving up their drug of choice. Nor do I talk about the grief of growing old. The list is endless.
Is there grief involved in all of those situations? Absolutely! Is it the same kind of grief? Usually not, and even it was, it doesn’t feel that way to a person grieving the death of someone they love. Death makes it different. Long term relationship makes it different. That it’s a human to human loss, makes it different.
For me that means respecting the difference, and talking about these different kinds of losses in different forums.
I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to comment below.
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