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My wife is devastated by our pet's death, an emotional wreck. Is this normal?

answered 09:59 AM EST, Thu September 08, 2011
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This is going to sound a little strange, but our dog died a few weeks ago and my wife is taking it really hard. She really loved that dog and since she couldn’t have kids she sort of treated it like a child in some ways (it’s hard to explain).

Anyways, I was quite sad when we had to put her down and I knew it was going to be much harder for my wife, and it was. But now even weeks later she barely wants to leave the house, she cries at any time of the day and most of the time she just wants to stay in bed or on the couch staring at TV Shows she never usually watches and there isn’t much I can do to change her mind and get her to cheer up or to come out and the things we normally enjoy doing.

Is it normal to be this affected by the death of a pet? It seems to me like she is depressed and the death of the dog sparked it off but now it is something beyond grief. Do I need to get her to see someone or will this work itself out in time?

William Anderson Says...

A pet's death can be as traumatic as any other loved one's. It can often be more devastating than one that other people think "should" have meant more. You don't have to explain. It's normal to be very affected by the loss of a dear pet. We form attachment and grieve their loss. Your wife's grief is real and needs attention.

I think you are right that she needs help from professionals. She may be suffering a clinical depression that will require some medical attention before it improves. It would be a mistake to think that waiting for it to work itself out is a good idea. That could take a long time, or it could get worse. Risking it getting worse or prolonging the suffering is a poor choice when action is almost guaranteed to improve things in a matter of days. She will benefit by seeing a mental health professional that can evaluate her needs and set her on a course for relief of these symptoms of depression. She may benefit by medication. She will benefit by grief counseling. You will all feel better as soon as you make an appointment. You should seek a mental health therapist who can provide grief counseling and connect with a psychiatrist if medical treatment is appropriate. 

Take action today and things will get better. Best wishes.

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Page last updated Sep 14, 2011

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