Companion Animal Loss Series: Post #4
So, what does research have to say about pet loss grief?
Well, for starters, a study published in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services concludes that pet loss grief is often misunderstood and, more importantly, devalued.
Along these same lines, a study published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling finds pet loss grief to be largely disenfranchised grief.
What is disenfranchised grief? Well, in a nutshell, it’s grief that’s been trivialized by social norms. In other words, pet loss grief is seen, by society as a whole, as something less than…legitimate grief.
As you can imagine, there’s a bit of danger associated with adhering to such a viewpoint.
Research also has interesting things to say about pet loss grief’s affect on your physical wellbeing. Another study published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling finds pet loss grief can cause all sorts of physical ailments, including fatigue, insomnia, unhealthy weight loss, joint pain, and yes, even “broken heart syndrome.”
And, of course, there are the mental health issues.
Research published in the British Journal of Psychology finds pet loss grief can cause long-term anxiety, depression, and even anger issues.
Another study, this published in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, finds pet loss grief often causes neuroticism in the bereaved guardian.
Additionally, research published in the journal Anthrozoos finds pet loss can, among certain populations, manifest as complicated grief—that’s long-term, unresolved, debilitating grief—and may even result in post-traumatic stress disorder.
And then there’s a study published in the journal Society & Animals. Here, researchers find that not only does pet loss grief rival that of human death-grief, but in many cases, participants reported more intense feelings regarding the pet loss.
Why might this be?
Well, let’s continue to cite the research. According to a study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, pet guardianship evokes emotional responses that are similar to those experienced within…
The parent-child dynamic.
And what’s the saying: The worst thing a parent can experience is…
The death of a child.
See where we’re going here?