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Pets help us heal after loss

Mourning a spouse can leave you feeling abandoned and lonely. Having a furry or feathered companion keeping you company can alleviate some of your loneliness.

In my work with widows and widowers, I have heard some of the following comments about how a pet has helped them:

‘My dog always loves me and is there whenever I come home to greet me.’

‘My cat will cuddle on my lap and purr which makes me feel warm and loved.’

‘My bird is always eager to chat or sit on my shoulder. He is my buddy.’

Animal companions are a wonderful way to help us in our mourning process. They require structure and routine, and rely on us for daily care, feeding, walking, and companionship. Pets hold us accountable for getting out of bed and feeding and loving them every day.

When we are grieving, we often do not feel like exercise or getting outside. This is a normal part of grief, yet caring for our physical selves during mourning can help us heal. Having a pet that relies on us to walk or to play with helps us take care of our own bodies, too.

Companion animals provide us with the warmth of another living thing in our homes. Having another living, breathing being in our home can help alleviate our loneliness because it gives us something to talk to. A pet is another warm body in the home to cuddle or focus your attention on.

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Grief Counselor Karen Liebold Head shotAbout the Author: Grief Counselor Karen Liebold, L.C.P.C., M.A. is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor committed to grief education. Karen has worked with clients in a variety of settings and has presented professional education workshops and seminars at both the national and international levels.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides general educational information from a mental health professional, but you should not substitute information on this blog for individual professional advice. If you are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, call 911 or visit your local hospital Emergency Room. Karen Liebold is not a licensed representative of Royal Alliance Associates or Phase 3 Advisory Services.