The many faces of grief
There are many different kinds of loss, with just as many kinds of grief. Just as loss can be complicated, so can the grief that is experienced.
The term “pet loss” includes the loss of a pet that has:
- been humanely euthanized
- passed away at home
- died after a long, drawn-out illness that has impacted home life, finances, and/or employment
- died violently or suffered an accident or injury
- needed to be relinquished (to a shelter or another home) for any number of reasons
- been lost or stolen
Sometimes the loss of a pet may be complicated by the circumstances around the loss, which may then complicate the grief that is experienced. In the face of an accident or illness, there may or may not be the chance to prepare for a pet’s passing and say goodbye. Without the chance for a proper goodbye, it may be difficult to resolve the loss. This is also the case when a pet goes missing.
A move to a senior’s residence or the diagnosis of a life-changing illness in the family requiring relinquishment of the pet can be especially heartbreaking. Likewise is a loss of a pet due to a fatal accident, which may be further complicated by guilt.
In the case of a service animal, given the special role held for the person and family, the loss may be immeasurable.
The circumstances of loss are as unique as the people who experience them, making the loss, grief – and the healing journey – equally as unique, and sometimes more challenging than one would expect.