ASK DENISE: Coping with grief from a pet’s death

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Denise Harrison

Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.


Dear Denise: I recently lost my sweet dog that has been my best friend for 14 years. I can’t stop crying over her; I am just so upset about this. My friends keep telling me it is just a dog and to get another one – they don’t seem to understand how I miss her and feel awful. She was not only a dog to me; she was my companion and best friend. Am I crazy for feeling this way?

Dear Reader: No, you certainly are not “crazy.” I know how I feel about my furbabies – I would be devastated if anything happened to them. 

As you aptly described, a pet can become many things to us – a best friend, a confidante, a comfort and a family member. It is natural to grieve over the loss of something that means so much.

Grieving over a pet, however, has an added problem, non-pet people won’t show you the sympathy and understanding they may for a human loss. It makes me grimace to hear someone say something like, “It’s only a dog” or “get another one.” They seem to lack the understanding that this loss is real and painful.  

So, when a pet lover loses their precious friend, not only do they suffer the grief of the loss, but also they suffer from the lack of support and understanding from others when they need it the most. Another thing to remember is there is not a “normal” way or time limit for grief.  Everyone handles it differently. Don’t let others make you feel you should be healed already, or the time has come for you to move on. Healing is something done on your time; it differs significantly from person to person. Take your time and seek professional help if needed. You will heal from this wound, but you need to nurture yourself and take the time you need. Be comforted knowing you were a good pet parent, and you provided a wonderful, long life to your furbaby.  


Dear Denise: I have a boyfriend, and we get along really well, but his mom keeps trying to fix him up with a neighbor. How can I get her to stop?

Dear Reader: I am sorry she is doing this. I know how annoying it must be. I do not, however, think it is up to you to stop her. Your boyfriend needs to step up to the plate and tell her he is happy with his current situation and doesn’t need her interference. Hopefully, he will do that soon and reduce some of the stress this is causing you. 

Best wishes.


Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor in Spruce Pine. Send questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.