Pets are more than animal roommates. We talk to them, cuddle them, and genuinely love them. They’re a non-judgmental friend (except in the case of cats, who are extremely judgmental) and a constant source of love. Losing a pet is so unique. Whether the death is unexpected, chosen as the humane alternative, or just of old age, our society presents so few options for true grieving. If a family member died, you would expect time off work, school–time to mourn and learn to live in the new dynamic. But people don’t view pets that way. If a girl mourns a cat, she is a sad spinster who doesn’t have a real life. I think guys have more freedom to be the cute emotional guy, but still.
Miley Cyrus is a huge advocate for rescuing animals and has a huge canine family. In sad news, her sweet dog Lila passed away yesterday. Though she has other fuzzy bodies to turn to (Ziggy, Happy, Penny Lane, Mary Jane, and Floyd), that doesn’t erase the loss. I imagine her other dogs are upset too–the loss of a pet often changes the whole dynamic of the group. The actress mourned on Twitter:
can’t think of one good reason to get out of bed today…
for everyone asking… I have never been so hurt in my life. My heart has never been so broken….. Lila my sweet baby girl has passed away.
Broken. Gonna go MIA for a bit. Need some healing time. Thank you to everyone who has sent love my way. I need it.
can’t sleep. i miss my baby girl….
It may not help much, but I think it’s important to remember the quality of life you gave to your pet. Every animal deserves to be the object of love, to be obsessively photographed and instagramed, to be pet and snuggled and talked to in an annoying baby voice when no one is at home (except for cats, who often prefer British voices and not be touched). We know how broken Miley must feel. So how can you give your beloved pet the mourning you need?
First, take the time for yourself. If you’re worried about work, say it was a family death. It isn’t their business who died. To you, the animal was family–end of discussion. Now, go home and do what makes you feel best. It may be numbing out during a Sex and the City marathon, flicking through pictures on your phone, drinking tea, not eating, and letting your hair get so greasy that it goes back to clean. You may be left with an empty home. If you need to, borrow a friend’s dog. Get outside, make another animal happy. Remember: the love you had for your pet isn’t gone, it’s just changed. You still have the potential for so much love, so send it to a new animal. When you’re ready, adopt. Dogs can be adopted alone, but it’s normally best for cats to be adopted in pairs.
Think of the life you provided to your wonderful pet–another animal deserves that. It won’t be the same, and you can’t replace anyone you loved, but if the choice is between you and a cold shelter or euthanasia, rescue. I’ve seen bumperstickers from the humane society that say “Who saved who?” with paw prints all around. And it’s so true. Roughly 20 million cats and dogs are euthanized annually in the United States. It’s a heartbreaking number, so do what you can. Spay and neuter the animals you have. Adopt when you’re ready. Those animals need you as much as you need them.