In her latest book, IT’S IN THE BAG, which details her entrepreneurial rise in the pet-travel industry, Gayle Martz recalls a period of extreme loss and grief when she lost her job and her fiancé died suddenly, leaving her nearly paralyzed in sadness. While her life seemed to fall apart, Martz writes that her only comfort during that time of extreme suffering was the unconditional love from her beloved dog, Sherpa. Owning a pet can be a huge part of the healing process for those experiencing loss or grief of any kind. Pets offer that unconditional love that Martz refers to and so much more. If you have suddenly found yourself in a similar situation, such as suffering the loss of a loved one or spouse – or even going through the difficulty of a divorce and adapting to a newly solitary lifestyle – adopting a pet may help ease the suffering and soothe the transition.
Reduce Stress and Support Mental Health
Suffering the death of a loved one or experiencing the life-altering transition of a divorce is stressful, to say the least. Owning a pet can help decrease physical symptoms of stress. In an article reviewing the research on human-animal interactions, the National Institutes of Health reported that, “Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure.” Snuggling your fur baby not only provides consistent, daily stress-reduction but also supports physical and mental health. According to this article, pets help boost mood, increase their owner’s physical activity and foster a sense of social connection – all of which support mental, emotional, and physical health in times of grief and suffering.
Adapting to a new living situation alone can be challenging and increase feelings of loneliness. Adopting a pet can help. Research reported in a Forbes article, noted that pet owners are 36% less likely to report loneliness. This was especially true for people over the age of 60. And, more specifically, women may benefit from pet-attachment support during difficult times. One study found that for women living alone, “pet-attachment support, but not human-attachment support” had a stronger impact on loneliness and depressed mood, “indicating the importance of pet attachment as a greater form of support.” Pets can help ease that transition to living alone by reducing loneliness and depression as well as offering consistent, unconditional love and support.
A New Beginning
Life-altering changes can sometimes be a good time to build new relationships. Adopting a pet can mark the start of something new, a new chapter with a new friend, who is always there for you, loves you unconditionally, keeps you active, and reduces stress from all the changes. Martz writes of her beloved dogs, “I could not have gotten through the toughest times in my life the way I did, without them.”
If you find yourself suddenly alone, embarking on a new chapter of your life, consider adopting a pet. It may just be the new beginning you need on your path to healing!
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