"I Don't Get It"
For those who do not have significant bonds with a companion animal, it can be difficult to understand how and why the loss of a companion animal can cause significant grief in others. However, it is not necessary to share the sense of importance of a loss – any loss – in order to have compassion for others.
Any significant loss results in grief, and the loss can be anything that was valued – a person, a place, a relationship, an animal. Our ability to reflect compassion and support to others only requires that we honor and appreciate what the loss meant to them – it does not require that we share the same sense of value in what was lost.
While we may not share a love for animals, we do share the capacity to form bonds and to grieve when those are lost. If we can shift our thinking from "I don't get it – it was just a dog" to "my friend has lost a significant relationship" then we can provide support from a place of real compassion and genuine understanding.
It is hurtful when our loved ones minimize our loss, and grief is a fertile time for the ruination of relationships. Therefore, we are wise to be gentle and non-judgmental with the losses of others. It is okay not to understand why the loss means so much – as long as you understand that it does -- and that the grief is both appropriate and normal.