My friend posted a status on facebook (aka: the relationship destroyer) about how she didn't think the loss of a pet was as heart wrenching as other people feel it is. People were all up in arms over this. I know my friend to be a wonderful and loving person and a truly and bluntly honest person, which is quite refreshing actually. Too many people live behind a mask of how society thinks they 'should' act and feel and it's nice to see some real emotion. Anyways, it makes me wonder how many people know the story behind her comment. She's coming from a place of grief when as a 12 year old girl, her 3 year old brother was struck by a ball bearing from a semi that came barreling through the windshield. It was violent, it was graphic and horribly painful to hear her relate this story to me a few months ago. My heart ACHED for her and her family to have to live through that experience and then all the rest of the days of her life.
Knowing this, I can see where she was coming from. She has lived through the loss of a human being. She has witnessed this loss first hand in such a horrific manner. It is not the same as watching an animal have an illness. It is not the same as watching an animal die, even if that pet is a beloved pet that you've had for many years. There is no doubt that people can have wonderful connections with their pets and can feel the love from them. It is not the same as a human relationship. It is not the same. There is NO COMPARISON.
After Oliver's diagnosis, I was alone in the car coming home from a night out and was listening to a radio show that I often listened to. They were talking about how people spend thousands and thousands of dollars to save their dogs lives from any number of illnesses. It made me ill. It made me sick to think that people think more of animals than they do of humans. My son was just given a death sentence and people are spending their money on research to save an animal. AN ANIMAL!!!
I've had several pets that have survived for several years. My childhood cat, Mickey, was around longer than I was and we had to put him down when he was 18. It was difficult. It was sad. It doesn't compare.
My mom just had to put my cat, Alley, down that a friend had given me for my 16th birthday. She told me that she went in and the doctor gave her a shot and within 15 seconds she was gone. Sad, but it doesn't compare.
Talking to other families that have lost their children, not just to cancer, but other accidents, has made me more aware. Having been given Oliver's diagnosis and grieving this past year for what is most likely going to happen to him has been horrible. Families have recounted their children's passing. Some watching their child deteriorate and lose vital functioning over time, such as the ability to walk, use their hands, talk and eventually breath. Children dying in their parents arms while gasping for breath. Parents not being able to do a thing about it. Cleaning up after their child has passed away, watching blood come out of their eyes. People... it does not compare to the loss of an animal.
I'm not saying don't love your pets. I'm not saying don't be sad over the loss of a pet. I am saying, don't compare the loss of a pet to the loss of a human being. Don't say, "I know how you feel" or "My dog was just diagnosed with cancer, I know how you feel", because you don't know. You have no idea. I know people don't know what to say so I'm enlightening you... don't compare your beloved pets loss to the loss of a person unless you want to injure and insult the person who is grieving.
People that 'don't get it' don't realize that they don't get it. I truly didn't get it until after Oliver was diagnosed. I didn't understand how hurtful things could be until they were said to me or about me. If you don't know what to say, keep your mouth shut and give that person a hug. Don't trivialize their grief by comparing it to the death of an animal. If anything, if will hurt that person more and create a wall between you. Just sayin'...