Would you like more support with your pet loss journey? Are people saying things to you that don’t make sense or feel supportive? If so, it is important to consider the common pet loss myths on your healing journey.
We have many pre-conceived ideas as to what death is about and how we “should” react to it or dread it. No matter where you are with your beliefs, it is important to approach these myths with an openness and willingness to heal.
The key to making these myths help you is to be aware of them, know how you feel about them, and then discredit them.
Five Common Pet Loss Grief Myths
- It is selfish and extravagant to mourn and grieve the death of a pet when our world has so much human suffering.
Discrediting—You are a pet parent, and you understand how important your companion was to you. The grief surrounding the fact that your pet died is significant and important to you.
People are capable of simultaneously grieving both animals and humans. One doesn’t have to detract from the other. By grieving and mourning your beloved companion, you are showing tremendous compassion for the world at large. That is a wonderful trait to have. Realizing that your heart is capable of such love will give you a tremendous amount of strength to heal—and to love again, both animals and people.
- There is a right and wrong way to grieve.
Discrediting —As with following the seven stages of grief in chronological order, the same is true about your unique grief experience—meaning there is not a single correct experience.
Your relationship with your beloved companion is special. No two people grieve the same way. While one person may feel sadness, another person may feel anger about their pet dying. Your grief journey is yours and very unique—stick with that!
- The best thing to do is to grieve and mourn alone, especially because it is just a pet.
Discrediting—We have been taught that in order to be strong and independent we should not share our grief. It would burden others, and it is inappropriate to let other people know how we are feeling.
That simply isn’t true. In fact, it is important to reach out to others who will honestly support you and not judge your process. It is important that you select carefully the people whom you reach out to. Your experience of loss and grief is a tender time to be fully cherished by you and in the way you decide.
- Grief will go away someday.
Discrediting—Never! And that is okay. Our grief changes as each day goes by. You will never forget your companion, yet your feelings of grief will change, and there will be a time when you will feel joy again.
Never feel like you have to rush through your grief journey. It takes time. Patience and not judging yourself come in handy when you are experiencing the stages of grief.
Your goal for healing your pet loss is not to “get over it.” We never stop feeling grief for losing a pet. But we learn to move forward in life again with fond memories.
- Having a feeling of joy at moments in my life after my companion has died is not good.
Discrediting—Here is the thing—your companion has died. Your pet was maybe very sick or elderly, or suffered a traumatic death.
The last thing that you probably think you are allowed to feel is joyful or happy. In fact, you probably are feeling many emotions from this news. All your emotions are valid and okay to feel.
It is okay to experience moments of joy, even when you are grieving about your companion’s death. It is healthy and doesn’t mean you are forgetting your pet’s situation or disrespecting your companion.
Joy and laughter are normal responses. This is your body giving you a breather from the stress, pain, anxiety, etc. It is a survival mechanism that you do not need to fear. Joy is first aid for the soul.
The Other Side of the Myths: Grace and Compassion
These five myths are very common, and many people think they are true. There are many more that I talk about in my books, in conjunction with the inappropriate comments that people make. Both which can easily trigger your grief. If you are not aware of the myths, you may become confused as to why suddenly you are feeling sad or very angry.
Remember . . . Take care of yourself with grace and compassion for your journey.
Read more about pet loss: Helping Grandchildren with Pet Loss – Open to Hope