The Difference between Species in Grief after Pet Loss, moderated by Social Acknowledgement
Dijk, S.A. van
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. The loss of a pet can evoke significant grief in their owners, as they often have close bonds with their animals. Grief after pet loss is often addressed as disenfranchised grief – grief that is unacknowledged by others. This study aims to investigate the difference between species in grief and social acknowledgement. The answers of Dutch participants (N = 149) who had lost a pet in the 5 years prior to this study were analyzed. The Pet Bereavement Questionnaire (PBQ) was used to measure grief and the Social Acknowledgement Questionnaire (SAQ) was used as a measure for the individual perception of social acknowledgement after the loss. Participants were divided in three groups according to their deceased pet; dogs (N = 58), cats (N = 53) and other pets (N = 38). Results show that there is a difference between species in grief and social acknowledgement. Social acknowledgement moderates the difference in grief between species. This highlights that further research about pet loss should not ignore the role of species nor the importance of social acknowledgement in grief. Taking the number of pets in Dutch households into consideration and the feelings of grief that pet loss can evoke, it is of great importance to broaden our knowledge about this novel and still relatively unknown area.