They are right there waiting for you when you get up in the morning or when you get home from work. They are excited to see you regardless of how you feel or how others feel about you. They are capable of giving you unconditional affection. It doesn’t matter how bad your day has been, they are glad to be with you. They may exercise with us, play with us, cuddle with us. We even take pictures with them (above is my family picture with our dog, George, in 2010). They definitely amuse us. The amount of funny pet videos is endless on TV and the web. Pets also care about us. I have seen my own pets approach my children when they are upset, obviously concerned. If you don’t think pets can grieve when they are separated from a human friend, search the internet, the stories and videos are numerous and compelling. Books and movies about pets often involve the loss of the pet as a part of the story. Such stories as Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Marley and Me, and The Incredible Journey are just a few. These are quite popular because people identify with them and it validates the love and grief they have felt for pets.
Our pets have distinct personalities and the way their dispositions match up with our own determines the depth of affection, just like human relations. You likely have had pets that you felt closer to than others. Just like with other people, the closer you are to a pet determines the depth of your grief. I have known some people for whom it is so difficult, they simply don’t ever get another pet for fear of going through it again. Certainly to immediately go out and get another pet is not going to erase the pain of losing a cherished friend. The grief is just as real as losing a human loved one. Below I have included a couple of links that are very helpful in traveling the through the grief of losing a pet.
Just as in grieving over a lost human friend, sometimes losing an animal friend may cause you to have trouble returning to life as it was before you lost them. How can you? They are no longer there. Life without them can be difficult at first. You may need to talk to someone who understands that your grief is legitimate and can help you find a new life without your friend. Don’t bury the hurt, express it, and get help if you need it.
Humane Society: Coping with the Death of Your Pet