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Pet bereavement and the different types of grief

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Grief experienced from pet loss is complex and multi-faceted. Some common ways in which grief can manifest include:


Normal Grief

This is a common response to loss. It usually involves a range of emotions like sadness, anger, denial, and acceptance.


Complicated Grief

This is a prolonged and intense form of grief that can occur when one is unable to move on from the loss, and the grieving process becomes prolonged and difficult.


Anticipatory Grief

This occurs when one knows that loss is imminent, such as when one’s pet is diagnosed with a terminal illness.


Disenfranchised Grief

This is a type of grief that is not recognised or validated by society e.g., when one encounters unhelpful & hurtful responses like “it was just an animal.”



Inhibited Grief

This occurs when an individual suppresses or avoids their feelings of grief, which can lead to unresolved emotions and difficulties in the future.


Everyone's experience of grief is unique and can involve a combination of these types. If you are experiencing grief as a result of the loss of a beloved companion animal, it's important to seek support and understanding from others, and to take the time and space you need to process your emotions.




Disenfranchised or ‘unshareable’ grief is a type of grief which tends to be socially invalidated. The issue over which one is grieving can be discounted as being “not worthy” as compared to “more deserving” losses. Grief experienced over the loss of a pet or animal can come under this category, and unfortunately quite commonly. However, it is a perfectly natural emotion and it is important to take care of yourself during this time.


Here are some things to keep in mind if you or someone you know is experiencing grief over the loss of a beloved animal:


Communicate with your employer: It is important to let your employer or supervisor know what you are going through. This can help them understand your needs and provide support.


Request time off: Depending on the intensity of the grief, it may be helpful to take time off work to focus on healing. Most employers offer bereavement leave or may be able to offer other forms of leave, such as personal or sick time.


Seek support: Consider reaching out to a counsellor, therapist, or support group to help process your grief. Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that can provide counselling services to employees.


Be patient with yourself: Grief can be a long and difficult process, and it is important to give yourself time and space to heal. It may take time to adjust to changes in your work performance or to fully return to work.


Set boundaries: If you are not comfortable discussing your grief at work or feel that you need space to grieve, communicate this to your employer and colleagues. It is important to set boundaries that prioritize your mental health and well-being.


Seek support and communicate your needs with your employer to ensure that you have the resources and accommodations you need to heal.



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