Not long ago I was listening to the Today Show and Jill Rappaport was interviewing a woman who had lost her dog. This woman compared the loss of her dog as equal to the loss of a family member.
As much as I loved the two dogs I owned in my lifetime for 15 years each, there was no comparison for me when my daughter died. We may get attached to our pets, we mourn when we lose them, but to make that comparison for me is unthinkable. Granted, there are similarities that while this woman who was interviewed may say she has never gotten over it and even had to go for counseling that ASPCA provides (just as a bereaved parent might go to a certified grief counselor), I cannot personally compare the love of my dog to the love of a human being.
It makes me wonder how others feel about this topic of grieving for a pet being the same and as devastating as grieving for a family member. Maybe if you have never been married or had children, that makes a difference, but I personally don’t see it.
As a side note: what I would like to see the Today Show do besides covering a dog’s death, is to ask one of us, the bereaved parent, how we feel as grief-stricken parents, to have our hearts torn in two, to feel like we’ve lost part of ourselves…part of our future. I’d like to see the Today Show cover Compassionate Friends national conference or Bereaved Parents USA conferences and help us reach out to these parents so we can tell them that they will eventually be okay, maybe not for a very long time, but eventually.
Nineteen percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced the death of a child, any age, any cause. That is a high statistic that even the Today Show should take note of. Until the 1980’s there was no information or groups to help parents who had lost a child. Thankfully, now there are many sources a grieving parent can turn to, but still many are unaware of their existence and don’t know where to turn. Just as pet owners now have the ASPCA, we, too, have many specific organizations related to the type of death experienced.
I can only speak for myself when I say, “Grieve for your pet or whomever you want in any way you want, but please don’t compare the death of a dog to the death of a human being.”