Losing a dog hurts like losing a loved one

Losing a dog hurts like losing a loved one

Anyone who owns a dog knows that they are more than just a pet. They are part of your family.

And that’s why it’s so hard when they cross the rainbow. Whether they lived by your side for many years leading a healthy happy life or left you too soon, the pain of loss is something that is almost unbearable.

But there are people who will tell us to “get over it” because “it’s just a dog.” These words hurt, because for us they were much more.

Well, there is nothing I can say to ease your loss, at least we now have research to back up the fact that the grieving process is very real. Not only that, but it has actually been found that it can be harder to get over the death of a pet than it is to get over the loss of a human.

I know it might sound crazy, but here’s what the study claims. The fact is, we bond emotionally with our pets in the same way we bond with other people. The same hormones and chemicals are released in our minds that make us feel loved and as the years go by no different from the rest of our family.

But why would it be harder to overcome? Well, there is no acceptable way to grieve the loss of a pet.

If one of one’s human family members dies, there are countless ways one can resort to dealing with the pain. They are surrounded by loving friends who will provide support and family members who try to help in any way they can.

They can turn to providing psychological support from a specialist but no one will criticize because they know they will go through a difficult time.
However, when your pet dies, you are expected to go on with your life as if nothing had happened.

You have to go to work, your social obligations and go on with the rest of your life without the understanding of most people. Sure, your closest family and friends know what’s going on, but even they may not be able to understand how deeply it affects you.

Without additional ways to help deal with the pain, you repress all of these feelings and are unable to truly overcome them.

It’s not just that you’re losing the animal per se according to psychologist Julie Axelrod, but you’re also losing a source of love and a companion.
Also, this loss leads to a huge disruption in the daily routine, sometimes more than the loss of real human loved ones. You’ve planned your day around your dog, and all of a sudden you lose that whole sequence, which can make you feel completely lost.

One of the saddest things that happens to dog owners who lose their companions is that for a while, they continue to live as if their dog was alive.

For example, something will fall in the other room and they will ask if it was the dog, or they may even hear other noises that they think their dog made. It’s the memories that trick us but needless to say it’s hard. Guilt also comes into play when quite often, there is a need to end the torture of the animal, a difficult choice, while we feel powerless to do anything else.

The next time you feel upset over the loss of a pet, remember that it’s perfectly okay to be heartbroken. They’re part of your family, no matter what non-dog lovers say, and it’s totally understandable that you’ll experience the loss as science says.

Tonic / PsychCentral


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