A Significant Void

Companion Animal Loss Series: Post #3


Oftentimes, at least with the four-legged variety, they wait for us, anxiously, on the other side of the door. It could be the front door. A kennel door. A stable door. A pen door. A crate door. It doesn’t matter. They wait for us. They don’t care what’s happened in our day. They just care about us; they can’t wait to see us and be with us.

They wait without judgement. They wait without expectation. They wait without demands.

They simply wait for the chance to love us.

In fact, that’s pretty much what they live for.

Now, can any romantic partner say that? Any sibling? Any friend, any parent, any child?

Probably not.

That’s why pet lost grief can be even more intense than human death-grief.

The love you share with a pet is…

Unconditional.

It truly is a scenario of…

“Till death do us part.”

With a pet, there’s no…

♦ Betrayal
♦ Abandonment
♦ Trust issues
♦ Emotional abuse
♦ Resentment

No trauma. No scars.

No subconscious imprinting that messes you up for a lifetime.

Instead, the love you share with your companion animal is…

Pure…

It’s beautiful…

It’s magical.

And when he or she says “goodbye”…

It can tear us to shreds.

And here’s a truth very few people dare discuss, at least publicly:

Losing a companion animal can create a significant void in our life. Most obviously, we lose a trusted companion, one that has, perhaps, helped us fend off feelings of loneliness and isolation, or maybe eased our anxiety or depression. Companion animals contribute to our emotional well-being, and in many ways, they give our actions an undercurrent of meaning. In fact, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology finds that pet guardianship actually increases self-esteem…as well as conscientiousness.

Hmm.

If only rush hour traffic were comprised solely of pet owners, huh?

Anyway…

The loss of a pet also, inevitably, changes our routine. How can it not?

With pet guardianship come responsibilities. We often craft our schedule around these responsibilities, creating a set of daily duties, meaning a morning ritual, an afternoon ritual, a dinner ritual, and a bedtime ritual.

Some of these duties may even yield additional exercise. If we have a dog, for instance, we probably walk that dog, on a daily basis. Perhaps an endeavor we wouldn’t typically undertake without a pet.

Companion animals can also allow us more social exposure, by way of things like a dog park, a horse club, an online cat forum, or even a reptile convention.

There’s a built-in structure to caring for a companion animal. Not just one that dictates we must do certain things at certain times on certain days, but one that actually adds rich texture to the very fabric of our lives.

And when he or she leaves us, that structure tends to slip away. That’s why we so often feel aimless and lost in the wake of that passing.

Note: I do edit the email letters for texture. If you wish to send one, you may do so via our contact form.