By: Yvonne Racine
The relationship we have with our pets can be among the most unconditional in our life. There is something about the innocence and lack of pretense in this kind of relationship that opens our hearts in ways no other relationship can. So when we lose a beloved pet, the grief is correspondingly intense as well.
Our society often does not allow for the expression of this kind of grief however. Since childhood many of us were told or shown that we shouldn’t feel bad, at least not for long, over the loss of a pet. The idea that we could just replace the loss has also been dominant in our culture. Of course, those of us who have loved our pets know only too well that each relationship we have with our pets is different and unique therefore irreplaceable. What we need is to be able to grieve the loss. We need compassion and understanding rather than intellectual and incorrect comments such as “don’t feel bad” or “replace the loss” or “time heals all wounds”.
Even though people around us may not understand the depth of our pain we need someone we can talk to about it so that we can express how we feel rather than suppressing it. For some that may be a bit challenging but it is worth the effort. Even though people may sound unfeeling with their intellectual comments it doesn’t mean they don’t care. It means they don’t know what to say.
When you realize that people close to you are actually trying to help, not harm, then you can help them be more helpful. You can gently let them know that they probably mean well but that is would be more helpful if they could simply acknowledge that it must painful for you and listen to you without having to comment or fix you. Grieving people don’t need to be fixed, they need to be heard.
Not everyone will be able to do this but you might be surprised who will, given a little education. Either way, what is most important is for you to acknowledge your pain and honour it rather than trying to push it down or pretend it isn’t there.
Learning to honour ourselves in the pain of our losses is even more important when having others do so. Our pain is a reflection of how much we love.
Don’t shut down your pain but rather honour it so that you can continue to allow yourself to love.
Yvonne Racine is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Life Celebrant. She is committed to compassionate grief recovery support and to creating meaningful life celebrations. Yvonne is also a holistic coach helping people learn how to take better care of themselves. www.yvonneracine.com.