Unresolved Grief and a Runaway Pet
Pet Grief Counseling : The pain of not knowing is a grief that forbids closure. It is experienced by parents who lose their children via kidnapping, or families who lose brothers on the battle field never to be found. This ambigious or unresolved type of grief restricts closure because there is always the haunting question of ”what if”. While the “what if” of reunion is always there, there is also the painful “what if” of what happened.
This type of pain is also associated with a runaway pet and the anxiety it can cause an owner. Jennifer Melvin, instructor for the AIHCP’s Pet Grief Loss Program, writes about this experience.
Unresolved situations can create unresolved emotions and thoughts. When a pet runs away and isn’t found it can lead to stress, anxiety, new fears, guilt and a myriad of internal emotions for the family involved. Until there is some resolve with how you perceive your –or someone else’s contribution towards the pet running away, these unsettling emotions and thoughts are likely to continue. Most often they even seep out through your unconscious and into your dreams- while asleep or daydreaming. This struggle with how it happened or what happened to the pet can be torturous. It’s often difficult to sort through the thoughts and feelings alone or with friends because you most likely will find your mind playing the same guilty, angry and/or stress ridden thoughts and images over and over like a song on repeat. This is a critical time to receive some formal support in order to stop that repeating tape and return to being able to concentrate, sleep well, eat right and feel more comfortable with living with what happened.
With this myriad of feelings, help and support are defintely needed. From my personal experience, the longest missing time of our Siberian Husky was three days. Those three days were filled with anxiety, sadness and fear. One can only imagine the pain and anguish of never recovering one’s pet.
If you are interested in learning about how grief can affect pet owners, please review the program.
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C