Some might think true grief is reserved for our fellow homo sapiens, but the loss of a pet prompts real mourning.
Even in the UK, which has what is seen by many non-Britons as a slightly repressed attitude towards death, prolonged mourning and visible grief is considered normal for the death of a family member or a close friend. The writer, broadcaster and former Labour deputy leader Lord Hattersley wrote this week in a newspaper about his grief for Buster his canine companion of 15 years, who died in October.
“I sat in the first floor room in which I work, watching my neighbours go about their lives, amazed and furious that they were behaving as if it was a normal day,” wrote Hattersley. “Stop all the clocks. Buster was dead.”
Our animal companions provoke strong feelings.
For anybody who has had a pet in their life, they form a unique and very special member of the family and remain so. In terms of that very special bond that individuals share it’s like any bond, once it’s broken, individuals feel that loss. That is expressed as grief.
The dog or the cat isn’t just part of the family it is their family. It may be they want their pet treated with the same dignity accorded to any member of the family. If granny died in hospital you wouldn’t leave the doctor to make the funeral arrangements.
Most people take the day off but most tend to tell a lie for fear of ridicule or that the boss won’t understand. They take a day of sick leave rather than admit to being off because of pet bereavement.
Many of those facing up to such sadness want spiritual reassurance. When humans die, many religious relatives have the consolation of their belief in an afterlife. In the world of pet bereavement, this is often referred to as “Rainbow Bridge”, based on a prose poem written by an anonymous author in the 1980s. “Rainbow Bridge” is mythical pet heaven. The spiritual side of pet bereavement is powerful.
And of course, there is something near unique about pet bereavement – the issue of euthanasia. Many pet owners have had to make a decision that only tiny numbers ever have to make about a human relative – the decision to end a life, with all the guilt that that entails.
Article source: BBC News