When my dog Gracie died, I was inconsolable. For the first two days, I couldn’t muster up the strength to step out of the house—spending most of my time curled up under the covers and crying.
My family and friends were supportive at first, but on the third day, their sympathy turned into confusion. Although they didn’t say it out loud, it was clear that they were wondering when I would “snap out of it.”
One of my friends even outright said: “It’s not like you’ve lost a family member.”
It made me wonder: is it wrong of me to grieve so much? I realized I didn’t even cry this much when a relative of mine passed away. Was I overreacting? Is it wrong of me to mourn the passing of a canine companion more than that of a relative?
So I looked it up. And it turns out, I’m not alone in this. Research shows that there’s a reason for it.
When a family member passes away, we are given time to cope with the loss. There’s the funeral, gatherings with family and friends who understand the pain, and sometimes even our workplace offers condolences by giving us some time off.
When our dog passes away, there’s none of the above. There’s no closure. We are forced to deal with the pain alone—with only a pat on the shoulder from those around us—and when we don’t “snap out of it” quickly enough, we get weird looks and comments about how “It’s just a dog.”
People who have never lived with a dog before may not understand, but Gracie was not “just a dog.” Gracie was my best friend—a part of my family.
Gracie never failed to seek me out for a walk at 3pm, and now there will be no more excited howling as I bring out the leash—no more bonding time as we run around the block together. No more licks on the face as I arrive home from work, no more cuddling on the couch watching TV together.
Gracie gave me so much—love, companionship, beautiful memories. She deserves to be missed, and I would never let anyone tell me otherwise.
Do you see your dog as a family member, too? Most people do. There’s even a phenomenon called “misnaming,” which is when we accidentally call our loved ones by our pet’s name. It goes to show just how much we see our dog as a part of the family.
If you’re trying to cope with the pain of losing a dog as well, remember that it’s all right to mourn. It’s okay to not be okay. You’re not alone in this and it’s not wrong to grieve.
Want to help other dogs—especially those still living in shelters—a chance to live as happily as your dog? With every purchase we donate to OSCAS—a non-profit organization with a mission to help all dogs find their forever home.