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I was on this grief support page on Facebook, and a woman posted how she couldn't believe someone would post about a cat on the grief support page when people are losing their babies, partners, parents, etc. (She had just lost her niece who was only half a year old, so she was obviously really distressed herself, probably didn't realize how harmful her post was.)

This isn't the first time I heard about someone being confused or downright angry about why you would be sad or grieve the loss of a dog or other pet. Because, well, you can just get another one and they are after all "just animals".

I've been working on my own anticipatory grief about my dog Zelda, who has been my world, and life has revolved around her for 9.5 years. I've lived with depression for most of my life and Zelda has been the consistent relationship that never failed me she kept me grounded. In the past I've kept my job because I knew I needed to support us, I got out of bed when all I wanted to do was lay in bed all day and all night, I went out in nature which I LOVE but couldn't do for me but I could do for her, I went home from work for her even when I was thinking about ending my life I thought how I had Zelda at home waiting for me, she comforts me to this day if I'm upset she comes over and sits next to me until I pet her and she rests her head into me (like a doggy hug).
While she hasn't been the easiest dog to due to her health and behavioral issues, she has been extremely impactful in all ways important in a relationship even if she has the intelligence of a human toddler. She is her own being, no other dog will be like her and no other dog will replace her, she has her own personality and positives and negatives that makeup who she is.
I cannot imagine my life without her by my side, and it's extremely painful to think about it brings me to tears. One of the worst parts is that many people, including my partner's mother, do not validate this grief.

All I ask of people is that you don't have to understand why I would grieve the loss of a dog, but you can understand the grief itself. That some types of grief are not more legitimate than others' grief, and it's not a competition its a unique, personal, and real experience.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced disenfranchised grief, and how you worked through it.
 

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People are funny.

Rest assured that those of us who have beloved pets, grieve them deeply when they’re gone. Not only then, but anticipation of the loss.

I find that most people who don’t understand that never loved a pet or had a pet love them.

Some of us either don’t have families or have bad families and therefore our emotions are tied to our pets as they help fill that hole in our hearts. People that have good families don’t tend have that kind of hole that needs to be filled by something or someone. We choose our pets.

Don’t judge them too harshly. Remember, they don’t understand and one day they might. I find some people don’t get to that point until they are older and alone.

For the grief of pet loss, it’s probably best to go to people who understand that type of loss. Many people cannot compare the loss of a pet to the loss of a human life. I understand it is different. But that doesn’t change the fact that we grieve either way.

I truly believe pets are a gift from God. I know that I and everyone on this site is thankful for the pets we have, and will grieve them deeply when they are lost to us. We grieve and console each other here because we know and understand the loss.

The lady you spoke of from your grief forum, remember, she’s also speaking out of her grief. For her, at this time, nothing is worse than the loss of her niece. As best you can, give her the compassion that she can’t give you.

When the time comes, share your grief with us and we will be there for you.
 

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People are funny.

Rest assured that those of us who have beloved pets, grieve them deeply when they’re gone. Not only then, but anticipation of the loss.

I find that most people who don’t understand that never loved a pet or had a pet love them.

Some of us either don’t have families or have bad families and therefore our emotions are tied to our pets as they help fill that hole in our hearts. People that have good families don’t tend have that kind of hole that needs to be filled by something or someone. We choose our pets.

Don’t judge them too harshly. Remember, they don’t understand and one day they might. I find some people don’t get to that point until they are older and alone.

For the grief of pet loss, it’s probably best to go to people who understand that type of loss. Many people cannot compare the loss of a pet to the loss of a human life. I understand it is different. But that doesn’t change the fact that we grieve either way.

I truly believe pets are a gift from God. I know that I and everyone on this site is thankful for the pets we have, and will grieve them deeply when they are lost to us. We grieve and console each other here because we know and understand the loss.

The lady you spoke of from your grief forum, remember, she’s also speaking out of her grief. For her, at this time, nothing is worse than the loss of her niece. As best you can, give her the compassion that she can’t give you.

When the time comes, share your grief with us and we will be there for you.
Wow, you nailed it, I couldn't have said it better. Thank you.
 

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Remember, they don’t understand and one day they might.
Years ago I lost one of our giant rabbits. I was gutted.

I had a little cry in work. A few days later I was in the kitchen when one of the sales guys came in, all puffy eyed.

He said, "You lost your rabbit a few days ago right?" Yep. "I didn't understand why you were so upset, but we had our cat put to sleep last night. I get it now"

I think the loss of pets is something people have to experience to truly understand.
 

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When I lost my heart dog, I was honestly surprised at how nice my extended family was about it, since they aren't big animal people. They have had dogs, but they were mostly the outdoor type dog. My grandma sent me a very nice card that had such a wonderful saying on it and helped me so much. My dad, who had always basically laughed at me for crying over pets dying before that I had only had for a short while, I basically rescued a lot of sick or disabled animals and give the quality of life until they go my heart can't handle any more after losing so many. When that dog had to be put down at a young age, he CRIED. He had never really had a relationship with an animal as a child, and when he did that animal was always ripped away, but it was never an animal like a dog and he never understood why people liked them. It took her death for him to finally understand, and going through that grief for him to get exactly why I cry over my pets. He didn't even cry that much when his grandmother died.
What people seem to understand even less is how long it can still be raw. My girl has been gone for almost two years and I still miss her so much. If I hadn't gotten my shepherd when I did, I don't know how I would have made it through it. Dog people understand, but general friends and acquaintances do not. And for so many people their animals are their children, and losing them is as bad for them as losing a child. For me, it was like my best friend was gone, and she was my best friend. I have a picture frame that has My Best Friend and a paw print on it, and I have never changed that to my shepherd's picture because even though I love her, she's still not my GIRL. She's more like having a toddler that you love but can still be completely exasperating than an equal, and I rather doubt I'll ever have that kind of relationship with a dog again.
 

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Paddy, Zoe, Mia, Rudy (dogs) Louie, Mocha (cats), 2 Lovebirds, 600 gallons of saltwater fish tanks
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Learning to deal with grief is easier with practice.
There are 7 dogs here right now and all are dear to us even though only 4 are ours. Having more obviously means you eventually lose more.
All you can is cherish their memory and make a new friend.
 

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All I ask of people is that you don't have to understand why I would grieve the loss of a dog, but you can understand the grief itself. That some types of grief are not more legitimate than others' grief, and it's not a competition its a unique, personal, and real experience.
This exactly. When my brother was diagnosed with inoperable cancer the following week my rottweiler pup came down with parvo (after his third shot and I had been so careful). 2 vets told me to just put him down since it hits black and tan dogs the hardest and it was futile. I figured out later that I fought so hard for that dog because here was something I COULD try to impact while there was nothing I could do for my brother's health. Mayhem survived and lived to 12. I had kept it together emotionally when my brother passed but when Mayhem passed a few years later it ALLL came together and I was a wracked with grief for a long time. On the outside looking in people judged for sure and assumed I cared more about the dog. We all deal in our own ways. Be gentle with yourself while you work through it.
 

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I would post exactly what you wrote here. It may really help the lady who lost her cat. And it may help the person(s) who have made hurtful comments about the grief of a pet's passing. Don't expect it to change though, because new people come on and old people leave, and the next time someone mentions the grief of losing a pet, someone will think it's just terrible that they are bringing it up in the group. There is a song, Sammy Davis Junior Sang it and danced to it, Mr. Bojangles. The man was a dancer and a drunk and used to travel to minstrel shows and honketonks and dance for tips. He and his dog traveled throughout the south. The dog up and died. After 20 years, he still grieves. It is normal and natural to grieve the loss of a pet. It is nothing new. The real sad thing about this conversation is that there are people in this world that have never had a meaningful relationship with a critter, and just don't get it, never have had the blessing that animals are to us.
 

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I like the idea of pursuing the discussion on that board - explaining that grief has many sources. Losses impact people differently. I will admit that I would feel awkward posting about the death of one of my animals on a grief support forum because while my dogs are of great significance to me, I understand that the loss of a child is very different..

It sounds like the person in question feels that someone expressing grief for an animal somehow diminishes the grief she has for her niece. People can be quite touchy about loss, almost protective of the status of their grief.
 

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I cried twice in the last 30 years....both over the loss of dogs.

When I lost my Dad, I was super sad since we were very close but I had so many things to do with his will, the funeral etc and my Mom to look after. With a dog, it just feels more final so I live every day with no regrets over them; today will be a great day.
 

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So many people takes decades to truly get over a pet- they are their world some their only family or for all a constant source of pure joy in their life. When you grieving it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand. They have pet loss support groups.
 
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