When humans die the community support and understanding is ongoing. There are celebratory remembrances: flowers, cards, eulogies. And there
is an accepted period of mourning, often months or even a year. Friends visit and talk about our loss. It is validating. Pet loss in
contrast often results in what might be considered a “disenfranchised” grief. All too often you’re expected to return to work and be
fully (and happily) engaged in life. No one sends you flowers (well rarely) and if your grief persists for longer than a few days (or
weeks) family begins to worry about your mental health. We must cover costs of medical care, often paying for it long after the pet
has passed. And the process of burial may be lacking comforting rituals and filled with lonely grief. Fortunately, some of this is
changing and there are progressive companies offering pet bereavement time off. And there are pet insurance companies that offer affordable
insurance for our four-legged companions that provides an affordable way to gain that expensive treatment that in a time of need can
be a huge help. And there are many products offered to memorialize the pet, although expense may be a barrier.
We want to lead the way to change. We want acknowledgement of a person’s pet loss to be the “norm.” We want to bring pet loss and the grief
it brings to the forefront so it is no longer disenfranchised but accepted and supported, no longer a lonely heartbreak.
When you know someone (and we all do) whose pet passes, take the time to send a remembrance. Send a card, pick up the phone, stop by to
chat with them. At Pet Perennials we offer families a healing activity to do together – our Make it Yourself Pet Perennials Kits. The
activity is a way for families to discuss their loss, and talk about life beyond the physical. Often a child’s first experience with
death comes through the loss of a beloved furry family member. And our Healing Hearts candle makes a wonderful way to remember someone’s
loss. It is the only pet memorial candle containing a keepsake heart and message from the pet from across the rainbow bridge. Lighting
a candle is an accepted way of remembering a soul that has crossed. Doing the same for our animal companions is a thoughtful way to
let someone know you understand and you are there for them.
As Henri Nouwen said, to console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, “You are not alone, I am with you.
Together we can carry the burden.” We all need to give it and we all need to receive it.
So as this holiday season begins, it can be joyous for many but equally as sad and difficult for those newly dealing with the loss of an
animal companion. Their absence is felt stronger, and the memories are there. Each holiday ritual lacks the presence of their beloved
pet and brings a renewed sadness of their loss. Often there have been years of holidays with their pet. Or as those sharing in the
grief sites have explained, often there have been just weeks or months with a new pet before unexpected loss occurred. Either way,
their loss is real and the absence of the pet at the holidays brings a new type of pain that may surface bringing a debilitating sense
If you or a someone you know is coping with the loss of a pet, suggest joining a pet grief group… whether online or at a local shelter.
Share with those that understand. Reach out to others. The holidays are a time for thanks. And the holidays are a time for memories.
Let us help. Let others help. Be someone’s help.
Let the season of thanks begin. Let the season of hope begin.
Blessings to all. And our deepest condolences to those in need. Remember, the loss of a companion animal may be one of the most heartbreaking experiences in one’s life. Don’t let someone's grief go unacknowledged. Don't let someone grieve alone. Pet loss breaks hearts. Pets are family.