Do our pets grieve?

The big question is ‘do pets grieve a missing member of their family?’

Do they have the cognitive ability to understand and experience loss?

Many domestic and wild animals experience this in the same manner as we humans do. Whether there’s been a death, a separation or just moving home. Animals have the awareness to pine for their friends and family members.

You may notice that your pet is behaving differently, perhaps keeping to themselves, not eating or playtime seems to have stopped. They may become more needy and vocal. These are signs that your pet is not coping with the changes within the family and social dynamics (I would also encourage consulting your vet for a physical check up during this time).

In any culture, death for humans is a harrowing time and we all grieve in our own personal way. We acknowledge that it affects us and the people around us but how do we handle it for our pets? What do we do?

The 1st thing to be aware of is that change in family and social dynamics for our pets has a major impact on their personality and their stability. Assuming that our pet can get on and go upwards within a blink of an eye is a misconception.

Animals do grieve! Sometimes a change will happen and while it affects the humans in the family, we forget to assist our pets in understanding what has happened. A change can be as simple as your next door neighbour moving away when they have had a close relationship with you and your pet. You may be use to them being there all the time, and visiting at a moment’s notice.  Once the move has happened, logically you understand that they’re not as accessible as before however you still may miss their presence. Have you thought that your pet may miss them too? They may long for them just like you do but may not understand what has changed especially if your neighbour always brought treats around!

How do you deal with a death in the family, whether it’s an animal or human?  What if your animal’s best pet friend has passed into the spirit world? The loss is definitely felt in the family by all members. We’re able to talk to each other as humans but what about your pet, how do they know what’s going on and why things have changed (and perhaps in their mind not for the best).

I always encourage animal owners to connect with their pet – it helps the owner to unwind and be present within themselves. In this manner you are able to connect and communicate with your pets so that they can have an understanding of what’s going on (and not just feel the effects of what’s happened emotionally). It’s important when in a connection with your pet to talk to them (out loud) and make them aware of what is happening and what has changed in the home front. Give your pets the heads up so they can grieve with you and know what the changes are. Help them adjust just as we need to.

When my Siamese fighting fish Choo Chee was nearing his time to cross over, my cat Nero (they were best friends. Nero would curl himself around the bowl and have his nanna naps – he even drank from the bowl and Choo Chee would get excited) it was my cat Nero who never left his side. When his time was imminent, both of us sat with Choo Chee and helped him cross over. It was Nero who told him it was ok to go. We stayed right to the very end. Then Nero and I went to the garden and buried him together. I had explained to Nero what was happening to his best friend the whole time. He still felt the loss of Choo Chee, in fact, we all did but Nero understood the situation.

What to do for your pet

  1. Be present with yourself. Take a deep breath and check in with how your body is feeling. If there is any tension or tightness. Shake it out (your body) if it helps you to be in the moment more
  2. Then connect with your pet
  3. Talk out loud to them about the situation at hand
  4. Let them know what you’re asking for and what you’re doing for them

Talking to them out loud helps you to be clearer with what you’re expressing – animals know and when we talk and explain things to them, it helps them to understand the situation.

Never underestimate the power of connecting and communicating with your pet…

Are you wanting to connect with your pet?

Join me for an Evening of Animal Talk

5th March Monday 7-9pm $45.00 Mosman NSW

Please contact Anahata Therapies for more information and bookings

Simonne Lee – Animal Communicator

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