Grieving the Loss of a Pet Needs the Health System Recognition

J Soc Work End Life Palliat Care. 2017 Oct-Dec;13(4):215-218. doi: 10.1080/15524256.2017.1385568.


Globally there is increased presence of pets in the households. This non-human relationship, with its dimensions of physical and emotional bonds, can get severely jolted on the death of the companion animal. It sets a feeling, 'our life is now left with a void and the house feels utterly empty'. Unlike the loss of a child, spouse or parent which become a shared tragedy; others may not understand the depth of sadness and a sense of void in a grieving pet owner. Emotional pain and physical distress due to the loss of a companion animal are likely to be pronounced. A big challenge for the medical community is to anticipate, identify and address physical and psychosocial symptom burdens in a timely manner.

Keywords: Grief; medical attention; non-human relationship; pet loss; symptom burden.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bereavement*
  • Death*
  • Emotions
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Pets / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*