Crying the loss of a pet still sometimes exposes you to ridicule or at least to a minimization of the pain felt by the bereaved. Yet the loss is real and amounts to true grief.
In a scientific publication published in the journal CABI Human -Animal Interactions (Source 1), two researchers deplore the social stigma that persists around the loss of a pet. They invite health professionals to consider this loss as bereavement, and provide tools for better patient support.
Emphasizing that the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened the bonds between pets and their masters, the two authors believe that “pets play an important role in the lives of their caregivers, assuming different attachment roles depending on the needs of the individual”. However, the mourning of a pet “continues to be disenfranchised in society. Judgments [à ce propos] can leading individuals to mourn their loss without social support”, they emphasize again.
However, this lack of social support can complicate the grieving process and further isolate people who mourn the death of their pet – cat or dog mainly. Researchers also note that other types of loss suffer from the same lack of empathy and recognition, such as the suicide of a loved one, miscarriage or the death of a person with AIDS. We should add that the loss of a very elderly relative can also cause this lack of support.
“When an individual loses a pet, it can be a traumatic experience, particularly considering the strength of the attachment, the role the animal has played in the individual’s life, and the circumstances and the type of loss”, details Dr. Michelle Crossley, assistant professor at Rhode Island College, mental health advisor and co-author of the study, in a press release (Source 2).
For practitioners who receive people bereaved by the death of their pet, the researchers suggest in particular to discuss in an intimate space, and why not to opt for therapeutic sessions in groups or via online forums. The idea is to share his experience with people who have also lost their pet. The expression of grief through art (painting, drawing, etc.) can also help to mourn.
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