Losing an Animal Friend
How to Deal with Grief
When we have a relationship with an animal companion it is centred in deep unconditional love. Our animals love us so unconditionally that no matter what we do, say, how we behave they just lovingly accept us for who we are. So when we lose an animal it is as though we are losing a part of our souls. Unlike human relationships where so many expectations are placed on love, our animals truly love us for who we are. We share a bond that many people may not understand and sometimes losing an animal can be more devastating than losing a human family member or friend and others that are close to us may not understand or appreciate this.
The bond that we form with our animal friends leave deep imprints on our hearts so when we lose them it can take a long time for us to heal. Each person deals with grief and heals in their own way and time and there is no set rule as to how long this should take. It is vital when dealing with grief that the person going through the grief process understands this and that they know that it is okay to feel all of the emotions associated with this.
When we lose an animal friend or even a human that is close to us there are various emotions that ranged from anger to guilt to blame to deep sorrow and each one of these is important to acknowledge.
If you are helping someone else deal with loss or you have to show compassion and empathy. There is a very fine line between empathy & sympathy and it is in the understanding of both concepts that we are able to assist and support others and ourselves in times of grief.
Very often we may hear “oh it was just a dog, don’t you think it’s time you got over it” and it is this kind of negativity and lack of understanding that can devastate the person going through the grief even further. The other one is “just get another dog/cat”.
When we understand that our precious animal friends are not just “things” but soul beings that we share a journey, a path with then we come to understand the deep connections and emotions that are formed.
Sometimes the person who is grieving just needs someone to listen to them, not be told how they should be feeling or how they should get over it. Our animal friends are very often our emotional support, our happy place, what we come home to and when they are gone a deep gaping hole is left behind.
This is why it is so important to understand grief, to understand the process of grief and how to lovingly support and ourselves and those going through it so that they know they are not alone. When we approach grief with respect, compassion, reverence and empathy for both the human and the animal that has passed that is when we are able to heal at deep levels.
“Sympathy is feeling for someone. Empathy is feeling with someone. Compassion is empathy in action” – Author Unknown
In next month’s article we will be looking at the various stages of grief but it is important to know that whether suffering from a the loss of a beloved pet or that of a human partner, friend or family member, the grief process does not go in defined stages or in a particular time frame, and we need to be very gentle with ourselves and others when going through the process.
Love and blessings