I was with a new friend of mine the other day travelling to our Maple Ridge, BC Death Café. Terri was talking about the death of her dear cat a year ago. A her story filled out it was clear that some of her friends tended to minimize the loss. I have noticed this before with others who have experienced the death of a family pet.
There seems to be some sort of belief that they were just an animal and can easily be replaced. It is some kind of misplaced minimization of the loss simply because it wasn’t a human family member. This lack of acknowledgment of the importance of the loss often results in people ‘sucking it up’.
As we spoke further it became clear to me that Terri had in fact stuffed down her grief. When I asked her cat’s name she responded through a beautiful flow of tears… “Rudy.” I had her tell me more about her dear Rudy, and as she did I began to understand the importance of her relationship with Rudy.
“Rudy just loved me without any conditions.” She said through even more tears of love’s grief. Rudy was always there for her, it didn’t matter what the weather was like, whether he had food in his dish, or his litter box cleaned when Terri showed up he just loved her!
It is this type of unconditional love that we all crave. Often our pets are way better at loving without conditions, conditions that some times our family members and loved ones impose on their love of us. I know I have some conditions on my love for sure and sometimes I do pull my love back because of those conditions, most of us do – except our pets of course.
So let us all remember how important relationships with our pets can be. Lets support those who have had a pet die by encouraging a ritual that marks the life lived by the pet and the beautiful relationship that was lost. Pets are family members too!