Pet Loss and Grief: An Integrative Perspective



As the role of pets in human life has increased substantially in the past 20 years, increasing attention has been given to human–animal bonds in the psychology literature (e.g., Brown, 2002, 2004, 2007; Gilbey, McNicholas, & Collis, 2007; Kurdek, 2008). Recent research suggests that people develop strong affectional bonds with their pets and experience a significant amount of distress when faced with their loss (e.g., Field, Orsini, Gavish, & Packman, 2009; Planchon & Templer, 1996; Wrobel & Dye, 2003). Despite the growing body of literature on the human–animal bond, research remains limited that examines both the nature of the relationship between human beings and animals and individuals’ response to the loss of a pet. Further, while some studies suggest that the grief experienced following a pet’s loss is comparable in intensity to that of losing a loved one (Field et al., 2009; Gerwolls & Labott, 1994), other findings (Wrobel & Dye, 2003) indicate that not all bereaved pet owners experience grief symptoms. Clearly, variations exist in the meaning that humans attribute to the pets in their lives, as well as the level of distress experienced following their loss. Therefore, it is important to understand the variables that account for the differences in individuals’ response to pet loss.


Attachment Theory Attachment Figure Constructivist Perspective Complicated Grief Grief Reaction 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTennessee State UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Lakeshore Psychotherapy AllianceChicagoUSA

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