Losing a cherished pet can be an emotionally devastating experience that one cannot even dream. Unfortunately on a societal level we simply do not recognise how painful pet loss can be and how painful pet loss can be and how much it can impair our emotional and physical health, and even our basic functioning. A journal recent study revealed that a woman whose dog died experienced broken heart syndrome. Losing a pet can hurt as much as losing a family member. Many pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family. In fact many people who live alone consider their pet to be the closest member of their family. They might see their parents or siblings several times a year but their pet is part of their daily lives and as such the pet’s death is likely to be far more impactful than that of a geographically distant relative.
Caretaking makes us feel better about ourselves
Caring for another being, whether human or animal, has been shown to help our mood and self esteem and increase feelings of well-being and purpose. When we no longer have a pet to care for we lose a significant source of emotional self-care as well.
Our daily routines get disrupted
Caring for pets involves routine and responsibilities around which we craft our days. Losing a pet disrupts established routines that provide us with structure and give our actions meaning. This is why, in addition to emotional pain, we feel aimless and lost in the days and weeks after our pet dies.
We lose aspects of our identity
Most dog owners are more likely to be known in their neighbourhood by their animals name than theirs. As such our pets become part our self-definition and losing them causes a rupture in our very sense –of -self.
Pets function as therapy animals
Whether they are trained to do so or not, pets function as therapy animals to some extent. Their mere presence provides companionship, reduces loneliness and depression and eases anxiety. When we lose them we lose a significant and vital source of support.