Pet Grief Counselling


In today’s impersonal, extremely technological and complicated world, an ever-increasing number of individuals take pleasure in their pets – treating them as loved family members, cherished pals and confidants.

Animal companions fulfil numerous essential functions, play a range of important roles in our lives and offer the experience of physical and emotional well-being in their owners. Their presence has a proven calming impact; blood pressure is decreased, as are loneliness and depression.

What’s Happening When We’re Grieving the Loss of a Pet?

Grief is a normal and healthy response to loss, but we’re rarely taught or acquire the social skills to recognize, let alone understand and cope with this potent emotion. If it’s tough for us to mourn and speak about the loss of a loved human, it’s much harder and shameful for us to talk about losing a pet. This is despite the fact that for many of us, our pets are very much-loved members of the family and that psychologists have long-since acknowledged that the grief experienced by pet owners following the death of a pet is precisely the same as that endured when a human dies. There are lots of emotions associated with grieving for the loss of a pet:

  • seclusion/disengagement from friends and family members
  • depression, sadness
  • uncontrollable weeping
  • rage at themselves, the veterinarian or, God
  • a sense of guilt that as owner/protector/carer, everything possible was not done for the animal
  • anxiety
  • loneliness
  • lack of ability to concentrate or focus
  • short-temperedness
  • over-whelming tiredness
  • poor or excessive appetite
  • abnormal use of drugs or alcohol
  • abnormal sleeping patterns

etc.

Despite all this pain, we are often self-conscious or uncomfortable talking about the loss of a pet, and there’s no natural process to encourage this, since there’s no public ritual such as the funeral or memorial service to comfort us.

When share our hearts and our lives with animals, it’s important to grasp that that when these pets die, their death creates deep void within our lives. As pet owners, we’ve become accustomed to looking after our pets and investing high quality time in them. Our pets perform an essential role in our daily life and activities. When they depart, we’re left alone.

None of us grieve in precisely the same way – there’s no designated period for grieving – for pets or humans. The length and way in which we grieve depends entirely on the meaningfulness and strength of the relationship we have shared with our animal friend, and just as importantly, on the type and number of other significant losses we have sustained in the past.

Grief is probably the most complicated, profound and painful emotion humans will ever experience in their lives. Individuals who’re grieving the loss of a pet need to understand they’re not alone in their suffering – they are in the company of many other people who’re in mourning for a similar loss. It helps to learn or be reminded that the grief they are feeling is entirely to be expected, normal and no less real because it’s for an animal. An open and free expression of the emotions being experienced, which is heard by someone who is sympathetic and empathetic helps enormously. This can be achieved by visiting a pet grief support group or a counsellor experienced in this issue.

At the Therapy Hour, we recognise the significance of the loss of a pet and will work with you to help you regain your emotional equilibrium. Contact us to discuss how we can help.