If you have ever owned the dog, you realize that they are more than a pet, they become a member of the family.
Perhaps that is why it is such a struggle when the beloved family pet passes away. It doesn’t matter if they have lived a long life in animal years or if they died suddenly and tragically, it is a painful loss that is very difficult to bear.
Some people will be quick to tell you to “get over it,” perhaps even telling you that it was “just a dog.” Those words can be almost as painful as losing our pet because we realize that they are so much more to us.
There is nothing that could be said to lessen the pain that somebody is experiencing during that time. It seems as if the way we have all felt about losing a pet is now backed up by scientific research. It shows that the mourning process that somebody goes through is real. In addition, it may actually be harder to overcome the emotions of losing a pet than it is to deal with the loss of a human.
That may sound a little bit crazy but it is just one of the claims made by the study.
You see, we tend to bond with our animals in a similar way to how we bond with humans. It is a hormonal and chemical process and as they are released in our brain, it makes us feel connected and loved. When we spend years with our beloved pets, they become a full-fledged member of the family.
You might be wondering why it would be harder to get over the death of a pet. Quite simply, there is not an acceptable way to mourn that loss.
If you were to lose a human family member, you can turn to any number of different resources to help manage what you are feeling. You may be surrounded by very supporting family members and friends whose kind words and actions help ease the pain.
We have counseling and therapy available and we are not criticized by others because we are going through a very difficult time.
It isn’t the same when our pet dies. You are expected to pick up the pieces and move on with your life as if it had never happened.
You go back to work immediately, keep any engagements that you have on your calendar and live your life without having anybody truly understand what you are going through.
You may have some friends or family members that understand your pain but more than likely, they don’t realize that it is affecting you so deeply.
Since we have limited resources for dealing with the pain, you have to repress the emotions and you never get the full resolution that is needed to move on healthfully.
There is more to it than simply losing a pet. Julie Axelrod, a psychologist, says that she feels it is also because you are losing the source of comfort and unconditional love.
There is a domino effect involved because the loss leads to a disruption to your daily routine. In may actually disrupt your routine more than the loss of a human. Most of us schedule our day around our dog and when they are gone, it can leave you feeling empty.
One of the more difficult things that somebody may go through when they lose a pet is that they continue to instinctively feel that they are with them. Something may fall in a different room and they will call out to the dog or they may actually hear noises, such as toenails on the floor.
Our memories can play tricks on us but they can also be difficult.
We may also have to make a difficult decision if the animal is suffering. It may be a humane choice but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. Perhaps we feel like we could do something more and it brings things to a different level that is hard to handle.
If you feel upset after losing a pet, there is nothing wrong with your broken heart. They were a member of your family and it doesn’t matter what others may say, it is understandable that you are going through something difficult. Even science agrees.