When a pet dies: Religious issues, euthanasia and strategies for coping with bereavement

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Sixty-eight people from a variety of religious backgrounds and who had experienced the death of a companion animal were interviewed. Questions covered their personal experience of their pet's death, the role that their religion played in this experience and factors affecting how well they coped with the death. Individuals varied widely in their emotional response to the death of their pet. Demographic variables were relatively weak predictors of the distress experienced, the strongest predictor of distress being whether or not the animal was euthanized. Religion did not affect the level of distress that participants reported or the veterinary treatment, including euthanasia, that they considered appropriate. Nevertheless, 56 percent of participants believed in an afterlife for their pet and generally found this belief comforting. Having someone to talk to, and being included in decision-making were also reported to be helpful.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279303786992378

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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