Losing a dog is always just as extreme as losing a relative or dear companion, yet I'm certain I don't need to convince anybody reading this of that reality. Rather, I'd like to discuss the reasons why that is so.
According to ABC News, Research has established that for most folks, the dead of a dog is, in almost every way, similar to the loss of a human loved one. Frank McAndrew recollects his recent experience with the excruciating decision to put his family dog to sleep. “I remember making eye contact with Murphy seconds before she took her last breath — she flashed me a look that was an endearing blend of confusion and the reassurance that everyone was okay since we were both by her side.” That glimpse into the essence of a dog’s soul is usually what makes it so hard to let them go.
Another reason is that our four-leg friends touch our everyday life in ways that few of our companions or relatives do. We live with our dogs, and that affects so many little details of our days—when we awaken, our exercise patterns, our hurry home after work, what we purchase, and who we have over—to mention a few. As much as we cherish our dearest loved ones, just a small percentage of them are basic parts of our day to day lives.
That specific type of closeness clarifies why numerous recent widows find the supermarket such a source of sadness. It's difficult to go on such a typical errand and NOT purchase the things that have filled the cart for many years or even half a century. After the passing of a dog, when the morning schedule differs and there are no more strolls after work with our closest companion, so many simple moments carry a similar reminder of loss.
Also, another reason is the lack of social customs to help us grieve publicly and to relieve us into the next phase of life. There are usually no funerals, no religious services, no obituaries and no organized help from the community to recognize the seriousness of the occasion. Our holy ceremonies lack the new understanding of the place that dog have in our lives and in our hearts. The absence of these anticipated, shared cultural responses can make it very difficult to move on.
To be reasonable, it's difficult to envision anything more unfortunate than anguish through the loss of a child or of an indistinguishable twin, yet for some individuals, the misery of losing a dog can possibly be as terrible as for any other loss. As that turn out to be more generally accepted in society, it is easier for folks to adapt to the loss of a dog. The acknowledgment that our bonds with the dog are intensely strong lessens the disgrace and humiliation many associate with grieving for a dog. In an environment in which no one would even consider uttering that awful expression “just a dog”, it would be easier to experience the natural mournful process and move on.
Adoring our dogs as much as we cherish our loved ones does not reduce the affection we have for our human friends. It just demonstrates that the realm of humanity is too little to contain the greatness of our adoration for others.
Have you mourned for dogs like you have mourned for people?