Pet Loss and Human Emotion [A research based on reflection on pet loss]
What are the different relationship with pets?
What are the attachment and roles played by the pet in the owner’s life?
Pets are starting to be accepted and treated as a family member. Their level of commitment in terms of health and food care needs is way higher than other family members. Pets play a significant role in our daily lives, some even are dependent on them. Taking dogs as an example, they are trained to aid the disabled, they can even detect someone suffering from cancer and other illness. Demographics even showed that 6 out of 10 households have pets in the United States. There are more pets as compared to the number of children in the households. Which shows are pets are becoming part of a family.
To some, their pets are their playmate, “a brother they never had”, “the boyfriend always present”, the best confidant. Pets are always there for them, someone they could rely on for physical and emotional contact.
Animals have a soul, in which like human, they are able to shower owners with unconditional love, exhibit honesty, dignity and the intelligence. Some see their pets as a splitting image of themselves. In which one could notice similarities between the owner and pet; personality, temperament, attitude and style. (Gunter, 1999).
Mourning are also categorised under a few sorts, self-blame, regret, helplessness, in which leads to grief. There are all sorts of grief that applies to different cases of how the pets passes on. However, the stages of grief can be summarised into 3 stages:
1. Shock and denial
It happens when coming to terms of pet’s death, not wanting to accept the fact that the pet could not live any longer or even the fact that they are gone. This results in owners fear that such instances of death will happen again to someone close to them or other pets. Not wanting to visit places that will bring back memories of their time spent together with the pet.
2. Emotional pain and suffering
Some feel the sense of guilt because they feel they cused the death of their pet indirectly such as not looking after them properly, or even the choice of euthanasia. The psychological pain and suffering might lead them to have difficulty interacting with others in future, or not being able to overcome the grief which leads to physical symptoms such as fatigue and headaches.
3. Acceptance and resolution
There are 2 kinds of people, one who accept the pet loss and the other who are not able to. The first group of people will wish to retain memories spent with their pets are are gone. While the latter will be too traumatised and overcome with emotions but still, they are able to relieve their grief through help and support.
In the current culture, not many will be willing or have a platform to share about how their pets relate to them, how the dismissal of their pets affect them. Reason being, others who can’t relate to the feelings of pet owners finds it strange.
There is a lack of responsiveness to pet loss that causes this topic to be a grey area. Formal support could mean coming from the expertise, therapists to deal with emotional turmoil, and even veterinarian to give the best possible advice on how to deal with illnesses and major decisions. Informal support from family members, friends and even owners who understands their plight.
These areas are missing in which social support is not given to such pet owners. No or little communication between veterinarians and pet owners are received. The states of being emotional could get better with counselling and support. And even the process of mourning for a pet could be accepted and deemed normal from the society has yet to be voiced.