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Grief of a Pet

Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT

Grief is defined as a deep sorrow, especially one that is caused by a death. People grieve over a death of a loved one or even a relationship. Something that is difficult for some people to comprehend is the grief of a pet.

RIP Chloe

I have seen mixed emotions from people when it comes to pets, they either love them so much or can do without them. I think we have all seen this type. Some feel their animals become a part of their family while others feel they should be "outdoor" pets. I'll admit, I'm very much in love with my pets and consider them part of my family. Many times people lean towards their pets for partnership/companionship, through breakups and makeups, through loss and heartache, a pet provides unconditional love and acceptance.

The most difficult thing about owning a pet is that their life expetancy is very short. When someone loses a pet, the heartache they may feel can be just as difficult as losing a person. An individual may experience the 5 stages of grief (in no particular order):

1. Denial and Isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

Understanding how you grieve and finding ways to cope with your loss can bring you closer to the day when memories bring peace instead of tears. As a friend or family member to the person who has experienced the loss, it is important to be supportive just as you would over any other loss.

* Photo courtesy of AJ Designs.

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