Grief over the death of a beloved pet can be devastating
Ellie advises a reader who can’t recover from the death of a dog/best friend, killed by a pitbull in its owner’s presence.
DREAMSTIME The traumatic loss of a pet under sudden and violent circumstances can leave an owner feeling powerless.
By: Ellie Advice, Published on Thu Mar 14 2013
Q: Last September, I lost my 3-year-old dog/best friend in a pitbull attack. While I was bruised and bloodied, I felt severe guilt over falling apart instead of finding a way to help him. I’ve sought counselling, focused mostly on anxiety, for which I’m already medicated.
My family and friends are a great support but no one totally understands my grief. I’ve read self-help books on pet loss, but none deal with such traumatic loss.
The pitbull owners were my neighbors, who had several prior citations, had already had one dog confiscated, and were all-around irresponsible and cruel to their pets. They moved away.
There’s little I can do legally. I’ve already tried counselling, prayer, group meetings, Internet searches. What else can I do to ease my pain?
A: All grief is personal and arouses anxieties, fears and other feelings of loss. With traumatic loss such as yours — sudden and violent — you feel powerless. The fact that it’s a pet is for you no different than a child because you felt the dog was in your care and your responsibility. So continue with the counselling, especially as you’ve been prone to anxiety. Coordinate your psychological therapy with your doctor, regarding the medication you’re already on, in case something else would be more effective through this period.
My suggestion: Perhaps a fund-raising event toward a pet-related charity, in your dog’s honour, might take you outside your grief, and give purpose to the pleasure/companionship your dog gave you.