Tag Archives: grief

Should I Feel Guilty about Grieving My Dog’s Death?

Don’t ever feel guilty about grieving the death of a pet. We are saddened or distressed when valuable possessions are broken or lost. But grief at a pet’s death can be deeper than the loss of any inanimate object. A dog may not be “worth” nearly as much in dollars as an antique, but the real value of “man’s best friend” is not monetary. Dogs aren’t things; they’re companions. They’re not man-made objects, but conscious beings—masterpieces of the Creator. There are ways in which a pet dog in its innocence can be our “best friend,” touchingly responsive to our moods and emotions.

Although they aren’t created in God’s image like human beings, higher animals share many remarkable qualities with us. They exhibit traits like joy, loyalty, affection, and courage. They also help us discover much about how to live fully in the present moment and enjoy the beautiful world that God has made.

Grief for a pet is real and valid because the relationship between them and us is real. The emotional impact of a family dog’s death is a real and significant loss, although on a lesser scale than that of a friend or family member. A pet’s death offers opportunities for learning important lessons about the grief process and preparing for future losses that will hurt even more.

We often find it easy to love our pets unconditionally because of their own loyalty and unconditional love for us. However, if our sense of loss at the death of a pet is more severe than the sense of loss of human friends and relatives who have died, we should consider why. Even in a world cursed with sin, we should miss human relationships more than relationships with pets. In this sense, the grief at a pet’s death can bring an awareness of our need for deeper relationships with the people in our lives.

It’s never healthy to suppress or deny your grief. Mourning the death of an animal that has shared your life experiences for years will be painful, but attempts to deny it will have negative consequences. Don’t forget the relationship you had with your dog any more than you would forget your relationship with a human loved one who has died.

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Why did God Give our Pets Such Short Life Spans?

Although land tortoises can live over 150 years and parrots sometimes live as long as people, most pets have short life spans Perhaps the Lord gave our pets short life spans to keep us from getting more attached to them than to our fellow human beings. Since the love of some intelligent pets for their human masters is remarkably unconditional, they often establish a deep emotional connection with us. In fact, we sometimes find it easier to love them unconditionally than each other.

The emotional impact of the death of a family’s pet is like the loss of any family member, though on a lesser scale. It offers opportunities for learning important lessons in preparation for future losses that will be worse. The grief at a pet’s death can bring an awareness of our need for deeper relationships with the people in our lives.

 

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Should I Feel Guilty About Grieving My Dog’s Death?

You shouldn’t feel guilty that you are grieving. We might be saddened or distressed when we break a valuable heirloom or lose a valuable antique in a fire. But grief at the death of a pet dog is—and should be—deeper. A dog may not be “worth” nearly as much in dollars as an antique, but the real value of your dog is not monetary. Dogs aren’t things; they’re companions. They’re not man-made objects, but masterpieces of the Creator, conscious beings with souls.

1 Although they aren’t created in God’s image like human beings, higher animals share many remarkable qualities in common with us. They exhibit emotions like joy, loyalty, affection, and courage. They also teach us much how to live fully in the present moment and enjoy the beautiful world that God has made.

Grief for a pet dog is real because the relationship between master and dog is real. God established the relationship between human beings and His other creatures (Genesis 2:19-20; Psalm 8:4-8). There are ways in which a pet dog in its innocence can be our “best friend,” touchingly responsive to our moods and emotions.

The emotional impact a family dog’s death is similar to the loss of any family member, although on a lesser scale. It should be taken seriously, because it offers opportunities for learning important lessons and preparing for future losses that will be worse.

We often find it easier to love our pets unconditionally than it is to love each other. If our sense of loss at the death of a pet is more severe than the sense of loss of human friends and relatives who have died, we should consider why. Even in a world cursed with sin, we should miss human relationships more than relationships with pets. In this sense, the grief at a pet’s death can bring an awareness of our need for deeper relationships with the people in our lives.

Because the loss is real, it is not healthy to suppress and deny your grief.2 Openly express your grief when alone or in the presence of others who understand. Realize that grief at the death of an animal that has shared your life experiences for years will be painful, and any attempt to deny it will have negative consequences.

Don’t try to forget the relationship that you had with your dog any more than you would try to forget the relationship with a human loved one who has died. We gain some sense of God’s immense sadness at the suffering and evil in the world when we realize that the Bible offers no indication that we will ever be reunited with the animals that mean so much to us in this world.

  1. The Hebrew word nephesh implies conscious life as distinguished from plants, which have unconscious life. In the sense of conscious life, an animal also has a soul. The word creature in Genesis 1:24 is from the Hebrew word nephesh. This word could be defined as a “breathing creature or animal” and designates the life principle in man and animals. Back To Article
  2. Although grief at an animal’s death is not unhealthy, some expressions of grief can be. Some people spend exorbitant amounts of money on pet memorials, or even have their pet’s body mounted by a taxidermist. These are reactions that show either that the animal is being valued more highly than people, or that it is being objectified in a way that overlooks the reasons we were attached to it in the first place. Back To Article
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I’m a Christian, So Why Am I Unhappy?

Why am I having such a hard time being happy when, as a follower of Christ, I’ve got so much to be thankful for?

Yes, it’s true that we have so much to be thankful for. After all, God has given us salvation, forgiveness, love, and the promise of future paradise. Still, somewhere deep inside, is a nagging gloom and we wonder if our faith is weak because we aren’t happier with our lives.

But the sorrow is there, not because we’re doing something wrong, but because we live in a broken world; a place where we can’t experience all God has to offer us. It’s a sign to us that we were made for heaven, for eternity with God.

The apostle Paul tells us that we were created for far better things than this world has to offer. He writes:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

And then again, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:2-6:

“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.”

Sometimes the yearning for God is too deep for words. We struggle to be happy, but we know that this place is contaminated with a sense of brokenness and futility. Working harder, doing better, serving longer, won’t take the edge off our sorrow. It lingers. And it won’t go away until the day our redemption is complete. Even our highest accomplishments feel pointless after awhile. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-9). Nothing lasts here and nothing fully satisfies us.

The result of being claimed by God, but not yet living with Him, is sorrow. But not sorrow alone. It’s also mixed with anticipation. We eagerly anticipate being with our heavenly Father. We are cut off from our heavenly Father; not in a spiritual sense, but in the sense that, now, we can’t experience the total joy of living in His presence today. We’re adopted, but not yet living with our Abba Father. It’s like an abandoned child who’s been adopted but is still living in an orphanage, eagerly waiting for her new parents to embrace her and take her home. She lives with a yearning, a longing to be with her family. And so do we. We may not always be fully aware of how deeply we long for this, but we too anticipate being with our Father. The Holy Spirit comforts us, but until we’re fully redeemed, we live with an inner hunger that’s not completely satisfied.

For now, because of the discrepancy between God’s claim on us and living in a broken world, we’re frustrated, feeling out of sorts. This frustration, though, shouldn’t alarm us. It’s a sign of good things to come. When we realize that it’s natural to feel sad and dissatisfied and that we won’t be happy all the time, we can allow our groaning to be a sign of hope for great things to come, and we can allow it to draw us closer to our Lord. When we feel the groan of our soul, we can find comfort knowing that we will someday see our Lord and Savior face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

It’s the person who is oblivious to this alienation in nature and within us, this endless cycle of decay, who is in greater danger than the one who’s painfully aware of this separation from God. The unaware person sees this frustration as grounds for despair and he may live his life trying to quiet his groaning through sex, relationships, money, work, or any kind of pleasure. But he finds that there is nothing here on this earth that can reach down far enough into his soul and fulfill him. At that point he has a choice—to recognize his longing as a sign of better things to come, or deny the groaning in his heart and continue his futile effort to have paradise now.

It’s natural to feel unhappy from time to time. But this is good news, because this burden or groaning fuels our hope and lets us know that God intends to make everything right. It reminds us that nothing material in this world can satisfy us. God Himself satisfies us (Psalm 90:14; 103:2-5; 107:9). Given that fact, Christians can use their longings to draw them closer to God and further away from the flesh. God will free us from the slavery of corruption and completely restore us.

Let’s not stress over the pangs of loneliness and sadness when they invade our hearts, but let us have joy because we know that far better things are in store for us. Through the sufferings of this world, we become more like God’s son, Jesus (James 1:1-4).

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