Pet Bereavement

Pet Bereavement

By Steve Keller

Our last newsletter reported the death of Clara, the beautiful and cherished Golden Retriever who served cheerfully and dutifully as the mascot and therapy dog for Camp Millie for several years. The impact of Clara’s death has prompted us to say a few words on this important subject.

Psychologists have long known that the level of suffering that pet owners endure after their pet dies can be as devastating as the death of a person. Similar to humans, each relationship with a pet is unique, therefore so is each grief process. It is normal and expected to grieve after any attachment relationship is severed, whether due to a sudden accident or prolonged illness. Grieving pet owners sustain physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and social changes as they adapt to the upheaval in their lives presented by the loss. As with grief for a human, these normal signs of grief gradually wane with time, and the griever eventually maintains a relationship of warm memories of the pet.

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