Many people consider pets to be part of the family. To wit, NBC News reports that Americans spend an average $60 billion on their pets each year. Caregivers are so invested, they often celebrate their pets’ birthdays, confide in their animals, post images and videos on social media, and carry pictures of their furry friends in wallets and on their phones. With so much invested, when a beloved pet dies, overwhelming feelings of intensity and sorrow are par for the course.
Fellow pet lovers ourselves, the staff at Foothill Funeral & Cremation understands the grief and works hard to put family members at ease after they lose a beloved animal. One such staff members is our bereavement pug, Lola, who has recently been certified to work with our clients and friends. As we discussed in a previous blog post, we are the only funeral home in Southern California to offer both pet and people-related services, which we consciously do in order to include every member of our clients’ families…whether or not they are of the four-legged variety.
How to Grieve over a Pet
While no one would question calling off work after losing a family member, such is not always the case when the one who died was a pet. After all; hard as it is to believe, some people live their lives entirely pet-less. So, what is the appropriate response when someone you lose is of the canine or feline variety? Is it wrong to grieve about a pet?
Grief is a very personal thing. While some people burst into tears, others become pensive. In an episode of the British television show, Fawlty Towers, one of the employees thinks his pet rat died. Unsure about the appropriate response in stoic England, the Spanish native wears a black armband and sighs loudly for days. In Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures, bereaved people hire professional mourners, to attend funerals, to make sure plenty of crying and wailing are expressed during memorial services.
In the United States, people handle grief in myriad ways. Since we don’t talk much about the subject of death, we generally allow people around us to grieve, when the time comes, in any matter they so choose. But, when it comes to pets, that is not always the case. So, how can you sufficiently deal with the death of a pet without looking like a psycho?
Realize it’s okay to be sad
The pet was an important part of your family, no matter what others around you may think. Give yourself permission to feel the pain. Know that time will make memories sweeter. You may find it difficult to accept that your pet is gone. It’s hard to imagine that he won’t greet you when you get home, or remind you about her evening meal.
Do what you need to do to process your grief.
Some people prefer to move on without much ado. If this is your process, that’s okay. At Foothill Funeral & Cremation, we offer several different packages for pets, because we understand that some will want a private cremation, memorial service and a decorative urn while others want to close the chapter without ceremony.
Reject feelings of guilt
This may occur if you feel responsible for your pet’s death. It is pointless and often erroneous to burden yourself with guilt for the accident or illness or euthanasia that claimed your pet’s life. Dwelling on these feelings will delay your ability to move on.
You may be angry about the illness that claimed your pet, the driver of a speeding car, the vet who “failed” to save your loved one’s life. While these emotions may be justified, when carried to extremes, they can distract you from the important task of resolving your grief.
Avoid prolonged depression
Although depression is common after losing someone you love, when taken to extremes, it can leave you powerless to cope with feelings. Extreme depression can rob you of motivation and energy, forcing you to dwell on your sorrow.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation
We would love to help you at your time of need or in the future, whether the one you have lost is a person or a pet. Drop by our Glendora showroom any time. In Covina, our relationship with Sacred Heart Chapel is the perfect place for mourners to host funerals and memorial services in a grandiose yet intimate setting.
We proudly serve the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Working in the mortuary industry since 1996, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity and trust. We would be honored to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.