Is it normal to grieve over the loss of a pet more than the loss of a family member?

Q.  I was wondering, is it normal to grieve over the loss of a pet more than the loss of a family member? Here’s the deal I lost my cat to a seizure about a week ago. I was devastated, I mean, I’m still grieving,it’s just about as bad as when I lost my dad. Since my cat was chosen out by my dad. (Long story)

Anyways, my grandmother died today, and she lived to be 87. I haven’t really cried that much, I don’t know if I’m still in shock, but I just don’t feel sad about it. I mean, I miss her, but I don’t feel sad like I did about my cat or about my dad. Why is this? Is it also normal for me to be grieving more about my cat than my grandma or is there something abnormal about me?


A.  It makes perfect sense. Losing the cat is like losing the last living part of your father.  At the same time, a pet is dependent on you, so you were a kind of mom to the cat.

Many believe that losing a child (which is what your cat was to you) is the worst pain a parent can experience. It’s partly the strength of the parent-child bond, and partly because the child didn’t get to live a long, full life. Your grandmother did have a long (and we hope fulfilling) life, so it isn’t a case of a life cut short.

However, do NOT express this last part out loud, especially to your family. However true it may be, people don’t like hear that one death is not as big a tragedy as another.

And do not worry that your feelings aren’t normal. A lot of people react in predictable ways, which is why the funeral business is such a money-maker. If you grieve in a different way, well, don’t let anybody tell you that it isn’t right or normal. You don’t need to validate anybody else’s manner of grieving.

Some responses by readers:

  1. Just Thinking:   I think you are being to hard on yourself. Grieving is different for all people and varies in degrees depending on many different factors. I would suggest that you have been in a state of grief and this is now added and so you have gone into shock? Try to be kind to yourself, the loss of your cat after the death of your father and the connection you have with the cat from your father is going to be very strong, possibly stronger than the relationship to your grandmother, there is nothing wrong or unnatural about that, the loss of your cat is like losing your father a second time?
  2. TM:   You know I don’t think its that crazy but I would feel the same if the same thing happened to me. I hate saying that but its true. I think you might be a little in shock and if your already grieving its hard to figure out who your grieving for. Its normal to not be devastated I think over a grandparent. For one they are older so it is expected,plus unless you live with them, the older you get the less attached you are too them.
  3. xxraeofsun:   You may have been closer to your cat than your grandma or maybe you weren’t seeing your cat’s death coming
  4. Ash:    Wow,you are definitely going through a lot right now and you shouldn’t feel bad that you aren’t “grieving” per se, but maybe you are still in shock and this is just a way of your emotional self to protect yourself. All of this loss at once is sure to confuse anyone about their emotions. You seem to connect your cat (how you described it) to your dad, (since he picked it out and all) so the loss of your cat is probably bringing back the pain of loosing your father. Don’t feel abnormal about any of this, or bad about grieving for your grandmother differently. This much stress can really mess with a person. Best wishes and sorry for your losses.