Recent medical researches show that owning a pet has positive mental and physical effects on the pet owners. People who have developed emotional attachment to a pet are happier and healthier. Reportedly, caring for them, touching them, feeding them, talking to them, playing with them or even just watching them, relaxes, eases, relieves stress and makes the quality of life better. Further, it does not only decrease heart rate, but also lowers hypertensions. Owning a pet is found to be beneficial especially to people who are shy and withdrawn; it enables them to share feelings which they cannot express in normal situations. Talking to a pet about one’s troubles and sadness provides them the venue to ventilate their feelings, which is therapeutic. However, it is also this emotional attachment that makes grief over losing a pet a distressing human experience. While it is a source of relief from stress it is also the source of emotionally devastating grief. But like any experience of grief, it can be dealt with overtime.
Why is losing a pet a unique individual grief? The grief of losing a pet is unique to every pet owner. The grief experience could differ depending on some factors:
First, is the willingness of the person to work on this painful experience. It is natural to feel depressed and to grieve. But unfortunately, some would prefer to push the feeling away because of people around who devalue pet loss; their painful feeling experienced because of losing a pet is not appreciated and understood. When feelings are repressed, it takes a long time for healing to happen.
Second, is the person’s coping capacity to grieve. Some people refuses to accept the reality that his beloved pet will never come back and that he has to exist without him; they will experience difficulty coping with grief than those who tries to be strong and who find ways to learn to let go.
Third, is the person’s level of emotional attachment to the pet. The deeper is the emotional attachment with the pet, the more difficult the healing process will take place.
Fourth, are the circumstances that led to the pet loss. If losing the pet was sudden due to accident or similar mishap, the grief reaction would be more profound and intense. It will prolong the pet owner’s time to heal.
If the pet loss was due to a pet’s illness or old age, the time to be emotionally prepared for the anticipated loss will help the owner get over the ordeal in a short time.
It the pet loss occurred because of physical separation, the uncertainty as to what happened to the pet after it was lost and can’t be found, will cause some feeling of guilt and frustration and this as well shall prolong the healing.
The void, the feeling of emptiness and the hole created in the heart by the passing of one’s pet may never be filled up in a short while that one expects, pet replacement may not even be effective, but certainly it will never be good to allow the hurt to linger unresolved. A pet memorial can be an effective way to morn the loss. There are a number of ways to cope with a worst experience of losing a pet, but it is only you who can best decide which one is most effective. The way to cope is as unique as the way one experiences the grief.