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Animal friends—”all creatures great and small”—share our lives and bring the sweetest affection. Shared happiness is a treasure. Animal companions see us through our troubles without judgment and communicate their understanding without words. Because humans so often outlive animals, we need to understand how to grieve—and recover from—their deaths
The relationship between animals and humans is a profound bond, mattering deeply in the lives of each of us. An obvious difference between grieving the loss of an animal and a human is the simplicity and, some would say, purity of the friendship. With human losses, relationships are often complicated by things unsaid or actions uncompleted. Animal bereavement is painful, not because of unresolved regrets or grievances, but for absence of our companion’s clear, clean, and unmeasured goodness. It is human to love and appreciate love returned. When that love is uncritical, forgiving, and joyous, it would be unimaginable not to be sad at its loss. Something in us also hungers for non-verbal understanding.

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