Pet Loss: I’m Still Not Over It
This year will be seven years since my cat died, and I’m still not over the pet loss. My cat was a part of my life for 17 years, and it doesn’t seem big enough an expression to describe her death as something that rocked me. Will I ever get over it? I have no idea, but I’ll highlight a couple of reasons preventing me from getting over the loss of my pet.
Reasons I’m Having Trouble Getting Over Pet Loss
The biggest, most obvious reason I’ve struggled to get over my pet loss is because of how long my cat was in my life. From age nine to 26, she was a staple of my every day. She’d been with me through some of my highest highs and lowest lows and was a constant source of joy and comfort. It makes sense to be impacted by her death.
Another looming reason it's been so difficult to get over losing my cat, despite being so many years later, is that people don’t see pet loss as significant.
Society tells you to be sad, but not that sad. Don't be so sad that it’s debilitating and causes you to miss days of work when it happens (like I did), and definitely not so sad that you can’t move on. No, you shouldn’t be that broken over pet loss.
How Pet Loss Can Truly Impact People
I don't know about you, but I say society’s perception is wrong. Pet loss can absolutely impact us that deeply. It has me. In fact, these are some of the main ways pet loss has affected me.
- Feeling anxious about loving another pet -- Will I ever be able to love a pet like that again? If I do, does that somehow take away from my love for my cat?
- Feeling like crying over the pet’s loss at any moment -- A memory, a picture—many things can trigger this.
- Having dreams about the pet being alive -- These dreams are awful. Not because it’s some Pet Sematary type of horror, but because even in my dreams, I know she shouldn’t be alive. Then there’s waking back up to the reality that she is not, in fact, alive again.
- Feeling guilty about not being with the pet more -- Guilt manifests in wondering why I wasn't home more to spend time with her or why I chose to do XYZ instead of spend time with her.
- It doesn’t feel okay to talk about pet loss -- Society's perception of pet loss makes it difficult to talk about. I’ve heard people talk down about people who go through this kind of grief. I garnered no sympathy from my workplace when I was non-functional in the days following my cat’s death. I’ve even been dismissed for suggesting that pet loss can hit this deeply.
I Grieve Pet Loss on My Own, But I Wish I Didn’t Have To
Before losing my cat, I didn’t understand the profound impacts of pet loss either. Now that I do, I see all the barriers to recovering from that loss and how it impacts various areas of my life (such as my depression and anxiety).
I don’t wish grief on anyone, but I wish for compassion. It would truly help people like me who are struggling with pet loss.
Barton, L. (2023, May 15). Pet Loss: I’m Still Not Over It, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2023/5/pet-loss-im-still-not-over-it