by: Mark Tillinger
When our pets get sick, or when they die, we experience the most human of emotions -- worry, compassion, fear, uncertainty, and ultimately, extreme grief. The depth of these emotions easily match the depth of the love we feel for our pets, and the loss of a beloved pet can feel as intensely sad as losing a family member or a close friend.
What can make this traumatic experience even more difficult is when other people fail to recognize the depth of your loss. You don't get a day off when your dog dies. Bereavement benefits are extended in the event of the death of an immediate family member -- and that is defined as a parent, parent in-law, brother, sister, spouse, child, grandparent, domestic partner, grandchild, or person in an equivalent relationship -- but not the family pet.
Our animals are with us through thick and thin. They comfort us when we're sad and they brighten our days when they greet us with delight each and every time we walk through our doors. They go where we take them and they're happy to do so, just as long as they're by our sides. They witness our arguments, our challenges, our milestones and our losses. We can be at our very worst and they do not judge us. You are always perfectly you in the eyes of your pet. Someone once described their dog as a heart with fur and I think many of us feel that way. With the domestication of animals, it seems that their main (and in some cases, only) purpose, is simply to love -- so how is the gravity of the illness or loss of such an integral part of lives not understood by all?
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What have been your experiences in dealing with work when your dog was dying or after she died? Were people understanding? Were they uncaring? Did you get time off to process your loss?