Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

Grand Canyon University
United States



In the past month two of my friends have gone through losing a family pet. Both pets had to be put down for their own reasons and each friend dealt with it in their own way. Grief hits all people differently, and there is no right way to react to a particular situation. The loss of a pet, depending on the person, is similar to losing a family member. Pets become a part of our family and live through all the good, bad, and ugly no one else sees beyond the happy family photos sent on holidays.  People are attached to pets because of our biology and need for affection. Human beings feel attached to our animal companions because they’re main purpose, in our eyes, is to make us happy. For the biology, when we touch and look at our pets in the eyes it releases chemicals in our brain (dopamine) that make us feel good. Furthermore, humans seek affection and our pets offer a perpetual and stable source of unconditional love for us.

Over the years, media has glorified pets as “good boys” and man’s best friend to influence American community to feel the strong desire to have a pet. It’s advertised in movies what the perfect family is with a dog and cat which will complete the “American dream”. People have also changed what this dream means to them. In other words, it isn’t bad to not be married and have kids at the end of our lives. Our culture has evolved where there are many individuals who prefer living alone and have no desire to change that. Pets come into a vital role where they fill the void of living with other people. We feel deeply attached and affected by the passing of our pets because we firmly believe that their life is innocent and doesn’t deserve a traumatic ending like death. The most “evil” thing our pets has ever done was chew our shoes, poop on the carpet, and give us allergies.

One of my friends was not as emotionally hurt by the passing of her pet because she said since she’s away from home it doesn’t feel like he’s gone, and in the back of her mind she thinks he’s still waiting for her to come back. My other friend had a tough time and took her some time to accept that he was gone. In the end, both of them came to the same conclusion. Death isn’t just for innocent or evil but for all life. Their pets didn’t deserve to live a life of pain and suffering, and forcing them to continue to live that life would be unmoral and inhumane.

It’s hard to deal with losing a pet we love and consider our best friend. Some people cope by getting another pet. However, some options include celebrating your pet’s life and preserving their memory. One of my friends went home and got matching paw print tattoos with the rest of her family and is proud to have a little something to remind her of this pet. Grief won’t turn off, but dealing with loss allows grief to not control our lives and appreciate the life that continues around us and within us.