Pets Can Help With Grief

Man looking at a dog on his lap while dog looks into distance

Shortly after my father died, I remember stopping in to see my Mom and noticing how empty the house felt. She sat at her kitchen counter sewing and there was no other living presence in the house. It just didn’t feel right. My Dad had been such a presence; the quiet was extremely disquieting.

After several discussions with my Mom and my sisters, we suggested that Mom consider getting a pet to bring more life into her home. Her first inclination was to get birds. We’d always had parakeets when we were growing up. So we did and the addition of two feathered friends dramatically changed the atmosphere. She enjoyed the easy care and life presence the birds brought along with their songs.

The next step, predicated by the difference the birds had made, was for my Mom to get a dog. Being in her 80s, she felt a senior dog would be just right. After weighing the pros and cons of dog ownership, she found Sam, a 10-year-old cocker spaniel to be her new roommate.

I can’t say that having Sam, who was very hard of hearing and mostly blind, was an easy addition to her home, but the fact was, he was perfect for Mom. He filled the house with unconditional love, companionship and another life to care for. Sam only lived another four years, but by that time the intense grief over the loss of my Dad had softened. Mom’s birds are still chirping and she has a wayward cat that has adopted her. She has lives that depend on her and she loves them. What a better way to help mend a heart that has lost a loved one.

Please Note: Before deciding on bringing a pet of any sort into your home, please take the time to carefully consider the pros and cons and discuss the issue with others in your life to be sure the time is right.