Your Pet Magazine June 2020

Page 12

Pet Loss During COVID-19:

You Are Not Alone

By Elizabeth Harvey


n the midst of social distancing requirements and a time of grief and anxiety across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some have experienced a loss that compounds these difficulties: the death of an animal companion. I hope that readers who are missing a special animal during this time will feel a little less alone through having their experience recognized. This article will touch on the grief process, offer tips for selfcare after loss, and provide a list of resources for support. For many of us, our animal companions are a crucial source of comfort and companionship. We consider them family. The emotional toll of losing a pet during the health crisis our society has been experiencing should not be underestimated. We are already dealing with unsettling news daily, and for some, personal experiences of multiple types of


crisis and perhaps longer term for those in high-risk health circumstances, but it may feel challenging to look for new sources of support. If you are struggling, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and to reach out for support – there are resources It makes sense that losing a pet while available and caring people who are willing navigating the current state of the world to help. The tips and resources below provide could amplify feelings of overwhelm. The a place to start. coronavirus situation raises a variety of new challenges with regard to pet loss. Changes Honoring the Grief Process, to processes at veterinary offices may disrupt Honoring Your Pet what we were expecting in terms of caring for our pets in their last days and saying There is no “one-size fits all” prescription for goodbye. We may be tempted to compare our coping with grief. Loss hits us each differloss of a pet to what others are experiencing ently, and coping approaches that help will or minimize the validity of our grief when not look the same for everyone. This also so much other loss is going on around us, goes for the timing of grief: there is no one intensifying feelings of isolation. Typical in- timetable for processing the loss of a pet, person social activities and support systems despite messages we may receive from othmay be harder to access during the health ers about “moving on.” Grief is a reflection losses, including human deaths and losses of health, financial stability, and social life. My 8-year-old son recently described the chain of events related to COVID-19 as a “tragic kaboom” and that seems apt.

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