Pets are family, their demise can hurt just as much, or even more, than the loss of a loved one.
Pet's make humans better at being humans. If you've grown up with a pet, you understand unconditional love and compassion like none other. For others, it is a mystery. They simply don't understand how a pet can take up so much space in one's heart. While there is a lot of empathy available for anyone who loses a human being, the same isn't the case for pets. Corporate and social structures accommodate for feelings of grief of losing a relative, but not one's pet. We are expected to just buckle up, and move on.
Pets are known to help fill a void within you, and now that they're gone, the void is back to being a gaping hole and that takes some time to heal. “It’s not surprising to me that we feel such grief over the loss of a pet, because in this country at least they are increasingly considered family members,” Leslie Irvine, a sociologist at the University of Colorado-Boulder, told Popular Science. Now, almost everyone owns a pet and they realized that they make their life better. As many as 68% of households in America have a pet. In 2018, $72.56 billion was spent on our pets in the US, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Another research, titled Why do people love their pets? by researcher John Archer and published in Science Direct, stated that the loss of a pet can be just as painful as the loss of a human being. "In some circumstances, pet owners derive more satisfaction from their pet relationship than those with humans, because they supply a type of unconditional relationship that is usually absent from those with other human beings," the research said. It's simple. What would happen if you yell at someone you know? They'd yell back and then most probably you will lose the bond you share. But, with pets, even after you give them a piece of your mind, they will come back to you to shower you with love and only love.
They also help you a lot with the smaller, rather trivial things in life that actually are more important than we give them credit for. “A lot of people who have pets wake up at a certain time, not because of any alarm clock or any need of their own but because their dog needs a walk,” says Irvine. “Just as other humans participate in becoming family by doing these practices — getting up together, eating together, navigating the bathroom times, and all that — so do animals become part of the rituals that make a family.” They become a part of your family by all means and you begin to incorporate their needs into your routine, just like you would do for any other human member of your family.
If your best friend is a dog, then there are high chances that they increase the level of oxytocin in your body. A study published in Science Mag about the Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds proves that when humans and dogs gaze at each other their oxytocin level increases. However, the same is not applicable for wolves. Another study, The Impact of Pet Loss on the Perceived Social Support and Psychological Distress of Hurricane Survivors, showed that while coping with post-disaster situations "pets might protect survivors from adverse outcomes whereas pet loss might increase risk."
"Pets can provide owners with nonjudgmental support, buffering against physical and mental health problems, and decreasing reactivity to stressors. Pet loss, in turn, is associated with psychological distress." Having a pet with you creates a unique bond. They know when you're happy or sad and they help cheer us up with their floof and cuteness and there's honestly no medicine in the world that can curb the pain you experience when you lose a pet. That memory of your pet is always going to stick with you, like a bittersweet memory.