Recently my friend Jenny lost her cat, Moe, after six years. I could tell the loss was great as she shared memories of her beloved cat. It reminded me of when we lost our family dog, Jo Jo. He had been a part of our family for over 10 years.
Joe was such a loving dog, and all he wanted to do was protect and love us. He loved his car rides. If you took him to the river, it was all over, as that is where he wanted to stay. Last spring we had to put him down, and I still feel a great sense of sadness when I think of him.
Animals bring out a special tenderness in humans. They are so loyal and just want to please. God created animals for our good and even for our health. Studies have shown that owning a pet can improve your health!
We love our pets so much that we spare no expense to care for them. Last year, Americans spent over $58 billion on their pets.
How does God feel about animals, and does He understand our love for them? Psalm 145:9 says, "The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation." Proverbs 12:10 states, "The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel."
Matthew 10:29-30 clearly shows that God even knows when a sparrow falls. God also provides food for them (Psalm 104:14). Jesus said: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26).
Sometimes we feel like we are forced to mourn the loss alone, since we feel it's not as important a loss as some others. Grief is never easy, no matter what you lose in life. Your pet was your companion. They even feel kind of like children to us. While losing a pet is nothing to be compared with losing a human, it is still a painful loss. I still miss our Jo Jo, and it has been over a year now.
So what should our response be when we lose a pet? How can we help others who lose a pet?
1. Be compassionate to yourself and to others when it comes to a loss.
2. Always ask God for love and compassion for yourself and for others who have lost a pet.
3. Never make light of a person's grief over the loss of a pet.
4. Take the time to send them a note or card. This helps validate their loss and shows that someone understands and cares.
5. Don't feel guilty because you are grieving over your pet. Realize it will take time. Give yourself time to grieve. It's okay to hurt over the death of your beloved pet. Don't compare your loss to that of losing a human being. It is different and unique.
6. If talking to someone who lost a pet, don't say, "Why don't you get another pet?" Let them come to that decision on their own.
Remember Psalm 147:3: "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds." Allow yourself time to grieve, because it is okay.