In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced her model called The 5 Stages of Grief, that at the time helped people who were dying and also applied to the survivors of the death. She helped people understand what was happening and why they were experiencing these emotions. They are usually present at different stages of grief and loss and do not occur in any particular order. They are Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Acceptance and Depression – we’ll look at the first four.
Stages of Grief and Loss & Pet Loss Bereavement
Denial: Disbelief and shock and is the conscious or unconscious refusal to accept what is happening. It is a defense mechanism which is perfectly natural. It is hard to accept that your pet is no longer with you and your home feels empty and disturbingly quiet.
Anger: underneath anger is pain and can manifest itself in different ways. People can be angry with themselves, others and especially the situation. Things that remind you of your pet such as toys and bedding or the sound of a neighbors pet barking or meowing can be painful to see and hear. This is quite normal and will subside over time.
Bargaining: before a loss it seems like you will do anything if only your pet is spared. We want to go back in time – find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening. We become lost in the “If only’s” and “What if’s”
Acceptance: this is not that everything is all right or OK, it is when instead of incredible sadness of pet loss bereavement, your thoughts turn to the joy your pet brought you and happiness in the companionship you had. This stage is about accepting the reality that your pet is gone. We might not like this reality, but eventually we accept it and learn how to live with it. You did everything to make their lives happy and content and that is what counts.