HONOURING THE BOND
Some people view their pets as companions, some as best friends, and still others as surrogate children. Any which way, “the bond” with our pets is a kindred connection. It encompasses a genuine feeling of affection along with a sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of the pet, and the kind of give-and-take that can only be found in the sanctity of human-animal relationships.
Pets help us lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. They engage and delight us with their playfulness, are a buffer against life’s stressors, are a source of support during personal illness and life transitions, and offer unparalleled opportunities to learn important life lessons. Pets even help us live longer. Research has shown that the wellspring of unconditional love, support, and companionship of pets promotes both physical and mental health. Quite simply, pets can be healing gifts in our lives. That’s not to say that life with pets is perfect! As with any relationship – and life overall – there can be bumps along the way. But for the most part, pets add to the fulfillment of life we yearn for, and we are better for the privilege of sharing our lives together.
In that sharing, pets become a part of who we are, where we live, and what we do. The loss of a pet, thus, can be deeply disruptive to our sense of identity, our sense of home, our sense of safety, and our sense of purpose. We may be surprised by how profoundly the loss can affect us. The loss is often just as difficult, if not more so, than the loss of a human member of the family. In fact, people often describe being more connected to their pets than to the humans in their lives.
Unfortunately, the bereavement of pet loss may not be fully recognized, understood, or validated, especially by those who are not familiar with the bond. As a result, those who have lost a pet may not feel encouraged to mourn the loss, and may find themselves isolated and without support.
Would talking with someone help?
If you have lost your pet, and have questions or feel “stuck” in any aspect of the grief, talking with someone who understands the bond may help. Grief is the normal, natural process of adjusting to the loss of a loved one; it is part of the human condition. And it is only by moving toward the experience that one can reconcile the loss, find new meaning, and learn to live with it.
Pets Plus Us recognizes the need for pet owner bereavement support. If you are a Pets Plus Us Member and would like to speak with Dr. Debbie, our Care & Empathy Officer, you may schedule an appointment with an Advocate by calling 1-800-364-8422 or by contacting Dr. Debbie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.