HomeHuman to cat relationshipbereavementLosing a Pet Is Often Harder Than Losing a Person but Employers and Lawmakers Don’t Understand This


Losing a Pet Is Often Harder Than Losing a Person but Employers and Lawmakers Don’t Understand This — 11 Comments

  1. My biggest concern with paid pet bereavement time is that there might actually be people who would care more about the paid time off than they care about their pets. Say, for example, a person takes his cat to the vet and discovers his cat has a thyroid condition that is completely treatable with either radiation treatment or with regular medication. If the man knew he could get three paid days of “vacation” from work, would he find himself more inclined to say goodbye to his pet? Not everyone would be so callous, of course, but you know there will be some….

    It just seems like paid pet bereavement has the potential to lead to abuses. I guess I’d be more in favor of either providing unpaid pet bereavement leave or perhaps granting employees a set amount of paid “personal leave” per year (or, “paid time off” as Dee mentions). The personal leave could be used however the employees wish — for appointments, illness, “mental health days”, vet trips, grieving for a lost pet, or even spending time with one’s pet as the end is coming near.

  2. When I was nine I had to go to school the say after our cat Tigger died. My teacher was very unsympathetic. I’m back to teaching again, and if a kid tells me their pet died or is unwell I definitely am sympathetic to their very real pain. It might be the most intense emotional pain they’ve dealt with in their young life. I don’t just brush it off. And no, seeing that I was on the honor roll did not “make me forget all about my cat.”

  3. Great article, Michael! Your got some good comments on it also. The statistics you included seem to suggest that losing a companion animal is every bit as painful as losing a human companion.

  4. It has always been harder for me to deal with losing a beloved pet than a family member or friend.

    I haven’t experienced the loss of a child, but that may be the equivalent to losing a pet. Don’t know.

    However, some of the losses I’ve experienced with my pets, actually, rendered me disabled/immobile for a period of time. The grief was so great that I couldn’t have worked even if forced to make an appearance.

    During my working years, I took the time off that I needed whether my employers liked it or not. Being on the job would have been wasteful for them as I wouldn’t have been productive.

    Early on, I didn’t reap any repercussions for being absent even though my grief wasn’t really understood by some of my bosses.

    In my later working career, paid days off were simply called “paid days off” without being divided into sick time, vacation time, etc. Therefore, it wasn’t known why I was taking paid days. I just was. It was a better and more private system.

    Like so many of us, my grief really never goes away. It’s more subdued but never gone.

    It’s not just employers who don’t understand the process. It can even be people we are close to who may suggest that we get a “replacement” or “keep busy”.
    They don’t get it either.

    • For me it takes something to remind me of grief and then I know it is still with me. I cried with grief for my last childhood pet, Mittens, on the day I officially adopted Monty through Animal Control. I didn’t even have a name for the tiny black cat who was now my responsibility, but he looked a bit like Mittens and just as I was starting a new relationship with him the loss of that other cat came flooding back.

    • Dee, I think that you are right. Our kitties are family members and we call them our “Fur-kids” very often. We don’t have children, but we feel that they are our four-legged furry kids, so the depth of grief can certainly be as strong as handling the death of a child. Just my opinion!

  5. I really think it depends on the company people work for and the supervisor or manager of that company. In my past, I’ve lost 2 cats while I was in the middle of my work week.One cat died while I was a taxi cab driver, the other died when I was a truck driver for a large company.The taxi cab company made me work while I grieved, but the truck driving company let me take 3 days off with pay while I grieved.The difference between the two different jobs was that the manager (my boss) at the truck driving company loved cats, while the manager at the taxi cab company hated cats. Driving a taxi on the same day my 1st cat died was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my whole life.

    • Hard to believe how uncaring some employers can be. My sister would sympathize with you. But I think you are right– if the employer has a strong connection to an animal they will understand your loss. If not, your pet is “just a cat” and they won’t get it.

    • It appears that somebody in a comment below is insinuating that I took 3 days off to grieve the loss of my cat in attempt to “abuse time off from work”. This insinuation could not be further from the truth.
      With that being said, people who are ready to jump to conclusions and assume that people take time off work to “abuse days off” are part of the problem when it comes to employers not wanting to understand the reality of pet grievance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • I’m terribly sorry if I was the one that gave you that impression — my comment had absolutely nothing to do with your situation. Several years ago, I overheard a young coworker of mine boast that he still had 4 grandparents waiting to “kick the bucket”, so he would get to enjoy 12 days of vacation when they died. This is the sort of thing that formed my opinion about pet bereavement leave . My company provides 3 days of bereavement leave per death of a close relative, so that’s where I came up with the 3 days. If my company started adding pets into the bereavement leave, I can only imagine people like my coworker would run out, grab a cat from the shelter, and mistreat the poor thing until it perishes.

        I’m terribly sorry for the loss of your cat and in no way am I implying you were abusing the time off you received. I’d just prefer that companies not have a special bereavement policy dedicated solely to the loss of pets, because I feel there are cases where pets may suffer at the hands of owners who are looking for time off (but YOU are clearly not one of those people).

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