I have recently taken my granddaughters to see “The Secret Life of Pets” and of course, thoroughly enjoyed it. There were dogs and cats, a hamster who was lost in the ventilation system (and later found his way home), a fish and iguana, to name a few. The movie was really cute and made me wonder what my dog, Snoopy, is up to when we’re gone!!

The last scene showed the love and affection between pet parents and their pets upon their returning home at the end of the day. It’s just a bit obvious that I’m a pet lover!!

Why are our pets so special? Easy! Love!! Our pets accept us unconditionally. We confide in them, cry with them, laugh and play with them. They are a part of our families, part of our life stories. I think back on the pets we’ve had over the past 46 years of our marriage; seven dogs, one cat, and numerous turtles of all sizes that my son, David, had collected every summer just to release them in the fall to hibernate. I could write a book with the memories of my pets and how they impacted my life throughout the years.

When our pet becomes ill, we take him/her to the Vet for treatment with the expectation of recovery. But it isn’t always that way. Animals get illnesses too and sometimes they can’t be cured and they die.

As with grief reactions in general, we all have our own grief print which can’t be compared or judged. To some, the owner was ready for their pet to die because of the suffering it had been experiencing and adjust to their loss without a problem. But to others, the death of their pet may cause inconsolable grief and sorrow. Maybe their pet was the only thing they loved or felt loved by or maybe they lived alone and now are alone again.

So, when I received a message asking if I provided grief counseling for someone who is struggling with the loss of their pet, I immediately responded “yes”.

If you have a friend you know who is struggling with the loss of a pet, encourage them to share stories about him/her, ask to look at pictures that will make them smile and reassure them that they are cared about. Most importantly, if you’re concerned about them, don’t hesitate to encourage them to seek support. We all deserve to tell our story and to have someone willing to listen is a true gift.

I invite you to share stories about your pets and what they meant to you!!

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