Though pets may now live 15-20 years in good health, their natural lifespan is still only a fraction of our own. Eventually, an owner may find themselves dealing with the harsh reality of losing a beloved friend and finding it difficult to overcome the grief associated with their loss.

It is natural to grieve over the death of a pet. Our feelings toward pets are so special that experts have a term for the relationship: the Human-Companion Animal Bond. When this bond is severed, the sense of loss can be overwhelming.

When a person dies, family friends, and relatives pay their respects at the funeral home. There is a funeral where sorrow and tears are accepted, even expected. Afterward, during a mourning period, friends and relatives assist and comfort grieving family members until their grief subsides and new routines develop.

When a pet dies, there is no such social ritual to formalize the grief. Even the immediate family and intimate friends may not fully understand the loss. Still, the loss of a pet affects our emotions, and all the more so if the pet was an integral part of the family.

Sometimes a pet must be euthanized (put to sleep humanly) due to chronic suffering or terminal illness. Owners may later feel guilty for making this decision. But one must understand the basic differences between the things animals consider important versus those of their human owners. Animals have no concept of the future. Their contentment comes from being warm and comfortable and having a full belly. They do not look forward to seeing their grandchildren, retiring, or traveling across the country.

If a person dies we grieve for them that they will not be able to do these things. Our pets live for each and every day and only for that day. If therefore an animal’s future days are to be filled with only pain and suffering, we do not take away from its dreams of the future be sparing it from that pain. This release from a painful life is at times the kindest gift of friendship an over can bestow.

If the loss of a pet gives way to lingering grief in a friend or yourself it is best to talk about it. Remember earlier, happier time and consider what kind of life that pet may have lived if a loving owner had not been there to care for its needs.

In the end, what is really important is how well an animal lived and how much it was loved by those whose lives were touched by it.

Call Us Text Us
Skip to content