I was asked if I would write about pet loss for this month’s column after Tigard Life Editor Michael Antonelli read a tribute on social media I wrote about my eldest cat recently passing away. The passing of any pet has been hard for me, but losing this one, a cat I proudly call my “soulmate of cats,” has been particularly difficult.
Anyone who has lost a pet understands that this kind of grief is hard and quite arguably as real as the loss of a human family member. Luckily, I work in a field that is extremely empathetic and sympathetic to the losses pet owners go through. I consider myself lucky. Getting work coverage to deal with the end of life came without judgment. Flowers, cards and verbal condolences were plentiful, showing support and remembrance. These actions do make a difference. And although the pain is there, knowing that others acknowledged this loss, my loss, meant that I wasn’t actually going through it alone.
Several months ago, a very sweet customer of mine gifted me a book that he found helped him and his wife when one of their beloved cats was hit by a car. He wanted me to know about it because it helped them so much and thought that one day it would help me, and through me, I could tell others. The book, “Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet” by Moira Anderson Allen, is a gem. A book you never want to have to read, but a must when “it happens.”
The author nails it: Most people feel intense sorrow when a pet dies. And most do not realize that many feel the same way, so they keep their feelings largely to themselves. This can make one feel alone in their grief, and for some, they won’t allow themselves to grieve properly. The book was written because the author was working on an article about pet loss and had interviewed hundreds of people about their experiences when dealing with their grief. She was noticing trends emerging, and then, she herself experienced great loss when her cat tragically died. And so, this book was born.
There’s nothing easy about losing a pet, and although we know we’ll most likely outlive them, it doesn’t seem to make their passings any easier. If there is anything I can say or do to help you cope with the loss of a pet, it is to remind you that you are absolutely not alone in grieving a pet. Make sure you acknowledge them and how they touched you, and find people you can talk to that will understand and listen without judgment. You are welcome to email me and tell me what your pet meant to you and how you have missed them. I will read your emails, and I will respond.