Grief is the normal and natural response to the loss of someone or something. When grieving, one is said to be in a state of bereavement. The loss of a pet can cause intense grief and sorrow. Given that so many people consider their pets as members of the family, this grief is normal and understandable. Each person experiences grief in a different way. Contrary to popular belief, grief does not unfold in clean, linear stages, nor does it have a timeline. Grief is a full body experience that includes physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual responses. A healthy grief journey comes from taking the time to work through feelings rather than trying to push them away, moving toward the experience of loss to learn to live with it. There are many ways to manage grief, including receiving support from others, finding comfort in routines and play, keeping active, taking breaks from the sadness, remembering your pet, memorializing your pet, searching for meaning, and eventually, possibly bringing a new pet into your life. Grieving takes time. Usually it gradually lessens in intensity over time, but if it doesn’t, then professional counseling may help.
Therapy pets are animals that visit hospitals, retirement homes, hospice centers, nursing homes and schools. Although most therapy pets are dogs, other species such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses are good candidates. These lovable pets are well trained, have good temperaments, and are people-friendly. Plus, they have a good work ethic!