Grieving over the loss of a pet
Benevolence has no limits
The man did not speak. Away from the other participants, he was listening intensely - you could tell. In his late sixties, wearing a coat and a helmet despite the heat, he was staring at the presenter but not a word, not a tear. The discussion was about grief: the recent loss of a spouse, the death of a child with cancer, the inability to cope with loneliness... everything was there, distress in the face of the unknown... But him, why was he there? What secret was lurking in his restrained speech?
Suddenly, at the end of the session, the man shyly raised his hand and in an almost imperceptible voice, declared: "I did not dare to speak because the sorrow that pushed me to register for this meeting is not like yours. You see, two weeks ago I lost my dog, my companion for 15 years, my confidant, my friend, the only one. I had to have him euthanized and since then, guilt has been eating away at my heart and soul. I am devastated by sadness. I don't see how I can fill the void he left in my life.
The meeting continued for a few minutes, with sincere but slightly awkward expressions of sympathy, words of support, and then we left at the scheduled time because we had to.
Yes, but...There is no scheduled time for recovery, no date on the calendar. There is no pill to counter the loneliness, no pill to erase the shame of the person whose grief seems out of proportion to that of a widower or a mother grieving the death of her child.
This man, his dog is dead, for real! Like so many others, he looked after his dog, cuddled it, spoiled it, talked to it! He felt useful and enjoyed the touching look of his companion who never judged him.
Pitou or kitty, parrot or gerbil...grief hits hard. You don't really understand? I didn't understand either until this man crossed my path.
A colleague said that no one lived with her as long as her dog. Cesar wiped away the tears of divorce with her, mourned the death of her father with her, as well as the departure of the children for university. So there you have it. Pain, grief, the intolerable emptiness that lingers..., it's real when your pet dies.
How do you support the bereaved? As if it were the death of a human loved one? Why not, since she is suffering! Are you afraid of being clumsy...of being insincere? Then stick to the old recipe: sim-pli-ci-té. Listening, empathy, openness to others, sincerity...that's all. And the saddened person probably doesn't ask for more.