Grief Recovery for Pet Loss

For Beyond 50's "Personal Growth" talks, listen to an interview with Cole James. He is a grief expert with over 35 years of experience through The Grief Recovery Institute in Los Angeles.  In America, about 43+ million people grieve over the loss of a cat or dog. When you add those grieving the death of exotic pets, it is safe to estimate there is a total of 63.5 million new pet loss grievers in this country every year.  James will talk about the major myths about grieving; what to say and not to say to a griever; the misused G-word - GUILT; the "stages" of grieving; and what to do with your pet's stuff after their death. 

Four Major Myths: Recognize & Discard Them

Myth #1: Don't Feel Bad - Feeling bad or sad is our natural and honest response when a loved one passes away.  Oftentimes we're told by others to be dishonest with our innate, emotional responses since childhood to keep our feeling inside.  Some common expressions told to the grieving are "Don't Feel Bad, he's in a better place" or "Don't Feel Bad, you can get another pet."

When caring for your other pets while grieving the loss of one, Cole suggests that you communicate to them your honest feelings through body language and tone of voice.  "Your emotional truth can't hurt them, but covering up your real feelings can be very confusing," he taught.

Myth #2: Replace the Loss - This is a generational myth that's often combined with Don't Feel Bad because both messages make very little sense. You are being casually counseled to not only suppress your feelings of grief, but to also replace the loss with a new pet.

Myth #3: Grieve Alone - People who isolate during their period of grieving is not natural, but more of a learned response.  It's part of the growing up indoctrination of when we feel bad, we should hide away and not tell others about it or else be judged by them.   This can become more problematic as we get older to become experts at not sharing our true feelings, long term.

Myth #4 Time Heals All Wounds -This is absolutely not true.  There is no set time when the grief will magically go away and we'll feel whole again. 

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