The Loneliness of Pet Loss

I’ve done psychic readings for a fair number of folks who have lost a beloved pet. I follow a couple of “animal” or “pet loss” groups on social media. Besides the agony of the absence of a fur-baby, there’s another aspect I notice of this particular grieving process: thinking that you’re somehow weak or wrong or overly hysterical because you’re having a hard time getting past it. It’s a unique kind of loneliness, one that I haven’t seen the equivalent of over the loss of a close human.

You may have friends, coworkers or family who don’t quite understand why the loss of your pet is such a big deal to you. How many of us have heard something along the lines of “It was only a cat,” or “Well, you can always get another one.” Like the animal who seemed to know your every thought and was always there for you was just a blender or a pair of shoes. So, you deeply internalize your grief, worrying that you’re some kind of freak. And that makes the process even more difficult.

I am here to tell you that what you’re experiencing is totally OK. There is no time frame on grieving the loss of a beloved animal. Have you seen that meme that goes something like “A pet leaves pawprints on your heart”? They do, and for that reason alone, accepting their physical absence is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. For some clients, they worry that it’s been five years and they’re still “not over it.” Fact is, you may never be. Of course, you’ll likely function better day to day, but it’s entirely possible that one day you may see an animal who reminds you of your lost fur-baby, and just fall apart.

Again, that’s OK.

I believe that one of the roles that animals play in our life is opening up our hearts and souls – which, in turn, makes us better humans. The love they show is profound and can’t be found anywhere else – not even in your family, in my opinion. I mean, do you cry at those ads for the ASPCA or over the dire circumstances of endangered species?  (Raises hand).

So “moving on” is a complicated process, different for everyone. The main takeaway I want you to have is that this is about the relationship you had with your pet – unique, personal, and frankly, none of anyone else’s damn bidness (even if they mean well). Don’t feel like you need to be on a timetable.

I would suggest that a grief support group can be helpful (they do have them for pet parents). There are also like-minded folks on social media where you’ll find people who “get it.” Bottom line: let the love you had with your animal live on in your heart. Honor him/her in any way you’d like. Know that the immediate agony will fade over time, but the special connection never will.

-Cindy Grogan