However, family and friends may not understand your feelings. They may say things that lead you to believe they think you should be “over it” or that it is unreasonable to feel so strongly about “just” an animal. They may tell you to go get another animal. No matter how well meaning they are, these comments can actually make your grief worse.
Healing from grief can be made easier if you can share your feelings with others who have gone through similar experiences. CAREing Paws friends and fellow animal/handler teams will not discount your emotions about your animal companion. We will not discredit you for feeling as you do. Instead, we will help you to work through your grief to a new place of healing.
The following quotes reflect feelings many people have after a cherished companion animal dies. Even though they talk about dogs, the same feelings apply to any animal we feel strongly about. Perhaps they will be meaningful to you:
“From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a man.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog.” just smile, because they “just don’t understand.” —Anonymous