If you've ever grieved over the death of a pet the way you would for a family member, you're not alone and it's perfectly normal. The Journal of Mental Health Counseling reviewed several studies and concluded that the death of a companion animal can be just as devastating as the loss of a human significant other...
That's because, while they're alive, our pets can be as close to us as immediate family members. To illustrate that point, they conducted a study in which they asked dog owners to draw a circle and place symbols for themselves, and each of their family members, within that circle. And, psychologically, the closer a symbol was to the main subject, the closer their real-life relationship was.
Well, in every case, dogs were placed as close to the subject as their immediate human family members. And in nearly 40% of the cases, the dog was closest of all.
But, there's always that person who says, "It was just a dog. Get over it already." And that can lead to what's called disenfranchised grief - which is when people feel that their pain isn't valid or acceptable.
If you're dealing with the loss of a pet, try to find a pet-loss support group... Because there are a lot of people who can relate to exactly what you're going through. Local branches of the ASPCA can usually help you - and the ASPCA also has a Pet Loss Hotline at (877) GRIEF-10. And if you know someone who's grieving for a pet, acknowledge it the same way you would if a human family member had passed.
John Tesh is a 6-time Emmy winning musician, TV and Radio broadcaster. He broadcasts the Intelligence for Your Life radio and TV shows speaking about topics including Health, Love, Sleep, Workplace and Pets.