Pets that Grieve, by Renee
As I was growing up in Chicago my family always had a dog. Later, as an adult, I was never without a four-legged friend. To date, I can recall 11 dearly departed pets; 10 dogs and one cat not including Elky, my present constant companion since August 2009. Only 10 months earlier I suffered the painful loss of my canine soul mate, Kyel. In his 14 years on earth he saw me through several life changing losses and events and taught me some valuable lessons about survival, humility and unconditional love. On a cloudless, sunny day in November 2008 we said our goodbyes. I will never forget the look in his eyes that told me he was grateful for the life he had and thankful for the time we had together. He was ready to go.
For many people, our pets are beloved family members and, when they die, we feel a traumatic loss. The grieving process happens gradually or in some cases, in cycles. Be patient with yourselves and others who may not understand your grief. Seek out groups or individuals who have lost pets and can appreciate the magnitude of your loss. Have a funeral if you feel it will give you closure or create a legacy like planting a tree or compiling a memory book. And lastly, look after yourself, especially if you have human family and other pets that depend on you.
In general, we all purchase, adopt or rescue a pet knowing we will most likely survive them. The painful responsibility of “putting your pet to sleep” is tantamount to nothing we will ever experience. Losing your loyal companion to an accident or having them pass away peacefully in their sleep are moments we will always remember. Grief is grief; whether it is for a human being or a beloved pet, we all have gone through or will experience grief at some point in our lives, and grieving our pets is a subject worthy of discussion.
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