Lose the family dog, never grieve alone

Do people respond differently to different kinds of deaths?
Is it easier to offer comfort to someone grieving the loss of a pet than someone grieving the loss of a human? Are people more comfortable with pet-inspired grief than with people-inspired grief?

When someone you love dies, especially if it's the shocking taken-too-soon death, nobody knows what to say. There's a lot of apologizing for your unspeakable loss and offers of "if there's anything I can do." These are all genuine and appreciated responses, of course. But everybody stumbles and mumbles around it. They don't want to make you cry or say something in advertently insensitive or wrong. They want to delicately indicate their support and sadness, and then let you decide what you want to do with it. And you're so fogged up in the shroud of grief you have no idea what to do or say. You spend most of your days just trying to stay upright.

Are Some Losses Easier to Comfort?: In the early days, weeks and months of grieving the loss of a human, nobody really knows how to get in there with you and walk in the muck. It always seems to be too soon. Nobody says - ‘Hey, my brother died, too, and it's the worst pain ever. I know just how you feel.' Whatever it is, there's a lot that goes unsaid.

When a Dog Dies: When your beloved old family dog dies, all bets are off. The world wraps its collective arms arounds you and you never grieve alone. Why?

Read more: When Your Dog Dies, You Never Grieve Alone

About the Author

Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

You are reading

Because I'm the Mom

The Myth of 'Complicated' Grief

It's pretty simple: Stop pathologizing my pain.

How Good Wives Survive Bad Marriages

Your marriage–and so your life–feel over. Now what?

Whose Pain Wins? Did Robin Williams Have a Choice? Says Who?

"I'd love to kill myself. But I'm a Mom. I don't have that option," she wrote.