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Pet Loss 101

Traditionally, profoundly bonded pet owners and people working with animals experienced what is called disenfranchised grief - "not experiencing their grief as legitmate when experiencing the loss of an animal".

Today the loss of a pet is recognized by many as a legitimate grief experience deserving of support and understanding by their family, friends and other support systems. 

People experiencing pet loss should also have the availabliity to connect with professional counsellors (if required and/or desired) who have a unique understanding of the pet loss experience.

Pet loss can be caused by many situations including death due to sickness, accidents and natural disaster.   Pet loss can also arise from a pet going missing or sudden development of a pet allergy requiring the pet owner to give up their pet. In other instances, pet owners may obtain restrictions related to their living environment, by-law restrictions or SPCA apprehensions. A loss can also occur due to relationship breakdowns, where there is no joint custody arrangement. 

People working directly with animals (such as veternarians, vet assistants, pet groomers, pet sitters, etc.) may experience grief more frequently and may also be susceptible to compassion fatigue.  These individuals may also benefit from counselling and/or further reading on this issue.

Regardless of the circumstances related to your pet loss, the emotional hardship experienced can be overwhelming.  The single most important factor in dealing with your loss is understanding the stages of the pet loss & grief process.