animal grief

Why Don’t People Understand Pet Loss Grief?

pet grief

Losing a pet can be an incredibly painful experience, but unfortunately, many people fail to understand the depth of grief that accompanies this loss. Unlike the loss of a human loved one, pet loss grief is often dismissed or minimized by others.

Grieving a pet is not a unique experience, but it can be an isolating one because of the way our society treats our furry family members. But your pet grief deserves to be acknowledged and supported, which leads many people to seek pet grief support.

Knowing the reasons behind this lack of understanding can help you navigate the complex emotions that arise from grieving the loss of a beloved pet—and help you get the support you need during this immensely difficult time.

So let’s take a closer look at why certain people may not understand why we are grieving our beloved animal.

The Deep Emotional Attachment and Bond with Pets Is Not Acknowledged

It doesn’t matter what kind of animal your pet was—the emotional attachment that forms between humans and animals can be profound.

Animals are considered members of the family, providing unconditional love, companionship, and emotional support. More than that, animals bring us unparalleled joy and purpose that, for many, cannot be found elsewhere. For pet parents, the loss of an animal is the loss of a child, a best friend, and a beloved companion, resulting in deep grief and sadness.

While some may struggle to understand this bond, we animal parents know all too well the sacred connection we share. Other people may love animals very much but have never bonded with an animal in the way we have, which leads them to question our grief based on their own personal experiences.

I know many people who love and care for their animals but do not experience a deep emotional attachment and bond with them. These people, along with those who have never lived with animals or don’t have pets, tend to minimize our grief and say things like “It was just an animal,” or “You can get another one,” things people would never say to someone who had a lost a human child or companion.

I’m still at a loss to explain why people think we can simply get another animal to get over our loss, or that it was “just an animal”. Each animal is sacred, special, and unique, just as every human child. Grief has no timeline, and many people fail to understand this.

Society’s Lack of Understanding and Support Leads Us to Feel Isolated

One reason why people don’t understand pet loss grief is the lack of societal recognition and support for this type of grieving.

Society tends to place more emphasis on the loss of human life, often disregarding or downplaying the significance of losing a pet. We only have to look at how our society treats animals—keeping them in cages, selling them in stores, abandoning them, and using them in medical experiments—to see that they don’t understand our grief.

This lack of understanding can result in feelings of isolation and invalidation for those grieving the loss of an animal. Friends, family, and even mental health professionals may not fully grasp the intensity of emotions experienced during pet loss grief, leading to a sense of loneliness and alienation.

I have even felt shamed by people who would not or could not acknowledge and understand my grief around my animals. Very few people even checked in during the first few weeks and months. After six months, right around the time that my shock was wearing off and I was just beginning to grasp the concept of the loss, my support system was virtually non-existent.

Are There Coping Strategies for Dealing with Misunderstood Grief?

While it may be challenging when people don’t understand pet loss grief, there are coping strategies that can help navigate this difficult journey.

Seeking support from others who have experienced pet loss, such as joining a pet loss support group, working with a pet grief coach, and seeking friends or family who truly “get” your loss can provide a sense of validation and understanding.

There are mental health professionals out there who understand pet grief, so don’t discount working with a therapist or counselor who understands what you’re going through. They can offer much-needed solace and support during this time.

Additionally, creating a memorial or engaging in activities that celebrate the life of the beloved pet may help in your grieving process (download my free guide to connecting with your loved one here!).

More than anything, let yourself do what you feel is right during your grieving process. Tell your story over and over. Cry when you feel like it. Put up photos of your beloved animal everywhere. Visit their grave, or spend time with their ashes. Talk to them. No one else can say what is right for you in your grief, because you alone know your loss.

Are You Dealing With Pet Grief?

You are not alone. People who have an immense bond with a special pet suffer greatly after a loss, not just because of the loss itself but because those around them discount their pain and fail to offer support. But you deserve to have people who understand and care, even if some of them may not totally understand what you are going through.

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