Online survey as empathic bridging for the disenfranchised grief of pet loss

Omega (Westport). 2014;69(4):333-56. doi: 10.2190/OM.69.4.a.


The current cross-cultural study investigated grief reactions of bereaved individuals following the death of a pet. We used qualitative methodology to compare, analyze, and report responses of U.S. and French Canadian participants to the last open-ended question on our online pet loss survey. We explored the degree to which our data illustrated pet loss as disenfranchised grief and asked whether there are differences and commonalities in the expression of grief between the two samples. Four major themes emerged: lack of validation and support; intensity of loss; nature of the human pet relationship; and continuing bonds. Findings confirm that, for both the U.S. and French Canadian participants, pet loss is often disenfranchised grief and there are ways to facilitate expressions of grief. Many participants wrote that the survey was therapeutic. Our survey allowed participants to express their grief in an anonymous, safe way by serving as empathic bridging and a willingness to help others.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pets / psychology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Social Support*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult