Back to "Find Support for Grief" in the Pet Parent Resource Center.
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When your pet dies, there are several reasons you may have a more intense grief response than others. This is nothing to feel ashamed about! There are dozens of life situations that serve to complicate grief. And, there are dozens of resources available to help you sort through your feelings.
If you see yourself in two or more of the following descriptions, you may be experiencing what experts call ‘complicated’ grief. This means that the circumstances surrounding your pet’s death may have made grieving a bit more difficult or prolonged for you.
Your grief may be complicated if you:
haven’t had previous experience with a significant loss or death.
have experienced other recent losses.
have a personal history of multiple losses.
feel you have very little support from friends or family.
had an exceptionally close bond with your pet (you considered your pet to be like a child or your pet was your primary source of emotional comfort and support).
lost your pet suddenly or unexpectedly.
witnessed your pet’s painful or traumatic death.
weren’t present at your pet’s death and are having a difficult time accepting that death actually did occur.
feel you must continue to search for your pet who disappeared or was lost.
feel responsible for your pet’s death.
symbolically link your pet to another person, relationship, or time in your life that you have already lost. This may cause you to re-experience your previous loss again.
have poor coping skills, in general, or are clinically depressed/under the care of a doctor or mental health professional.
believe that society or your workplace, in general, trivializes the role your pet played in your life and may penalize you for taking time to grieve.
Our society tends to believe that the simple passing of time can heal our emotional wounds just as it heals our physical injuries. Yet, research and clinical experience shows that the passing of time isn’t always enough to heal the wounds inflicted by loss. True emotional healing often requires grief education, understanding and support from others, and the addition of new, effective coping skills.
It’s never too late to seek help. If grief seems to be complicating your life, talk to your veterinarian today and ask for a referral to a pet loss support group or mental health professional in your area.
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Find additional resources and related articles under Find Support for Grief in the Veterinary Wisdom® Resource Center - Support for Pet Parents.
© 2009, Rev. 2013. World by the Tail, Inc. All rights reserved.
Laurel Lagoni is a nationally recognized veterinary grief expert and the former Director of the Argus Institute at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She is President of World by the Tail, Inc., and directs the Veterinary Wisdom® Resource Centers at www.veterinarywisdom.com