How to grieve for a pet: A family can be devastated

Pet owners who stage funerals can be the target of mockery, but ceremony can help

The pandemic strengthened many people’s attachment to their pets. Photograph: iStock

The pandemic strengthened many people’s attachment to their pets. Photograph: iStock

Grief is grief

The grief of losing a pet is real. “Grief has no boundaries. Whether it is a person or an animal, how people deal with it can be very similar,” says Eileen Finnegan, member of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. “You hear people say, ‘For God’s sake, it was just an animal’. But the death can be so traumatising for somebody for whom the pet meant so much. Don’t minimise it,” says Finnegan.

“All of us can have our biases of what we consider worse or better grief, but it is what the loss symbolises to the person. The memory of getting the dog, the attachment people had to it, there is a story that goes with it. Where we can all meet each other is if we can just acknowledge what it is like to lose and to comfort somebody in the same way.”

The Irish Times
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