A close-up picture of a cat with blue eyes.

Letting Go of a Pet

A couple of weeks ago we made the decision to say goodbye to our cat, Sydney. She was 25 years old and had been with us since right before we got married. Sydney had been with us through so many things – both in our personal lives and throughout history. Like most of our fur babies she was a source of comfort and joy … and could also be a real pain in the butt! During our first PCS, she made it known how unhappy she was with the move by peeing on us in the middle of the night. It was only once – and I truly believe she was letting us know exactly how she felt.

Our pets become such an integral part of our lives and are part of the fabric of our military families. They are there through PCSs, deployments, meeting new friends and saying goodbye to the old ones, the happy times, and the hardest times.

Research has shown that the loss of a pet, especially one that is considered family and a companion, can be just as devastating, if not more so, than the loss of an individual. It is important to understand that many factors influence grief and loss, such as religious beliefs and culture. Each person in the family or household must be allowed and encouraged to grieve in their own way.

Along with allowing and accepting everyone’s way of grieving, it is important during this time to take care of oneself. Self-care during times of grief may look different for everyone and while there is no way to predict how long grief will last, kindness and compassion for yourself and your family members can help you through the process.

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