This is personal for me.
Work for a living? Have time off? Think you've got it pretty good? Well you might think different when you hear what certain companies are doing for their employees who own pets.
They aren't offering a 24/7 chocolate fountain, or a free lunch as a reward for attending an HR event, they're doing something that actually matters.
I know, color me shocked.
More and more employers are offering their employees a day off to grieve after they experience the loss of a pet. This idea leapt out to me, because in just a matter of time I'm going to have to say goodbye to a pet and I don't know how I'll cope.
One woman profiled by CBS shared that the day off to grieve the loss of her pet wasn't just important to her, it was crucial to her family. She needed the time to be with her young son and walk him through what exactly happened to his beloved pet. For many children, the loss of a pet is the first experience with grief they ever have.
If you are one of those people who truly and deeply loves your pet, then you already know just how integral that animal becomes to your life. They are more than a cute and fluffy amusement or an irksome responsibility requiring walks, our pets are parts of our family.
Subtract emotions from the equation for a second, and let's talk about what pets do to our bodies on a physical level. Our pets help lower our blood pressure. They can seriously reduce our anxiety. Kids who grow up with pets in their homes are less likely to have severe allergies or asthma.
AIDS patients experience less depression if they own a dog. Alzheimer's patients have fewer anxious outbursts with dogs by their side. Even people who have experienced heart attacks are shown to live much longer if they get a pet.
It's no wonder that when we lose a pet it feels like we've lost a part of ourselves. It literally stresses out our hearts.
My cat Rumi is literally days away from death. He is a Persian cat who has lived well into his teens (almost to his twenties). The genetic problems of being purebred have meant his body has started shutting down with incredible speed. I've been put in the tough position of doing what is best for him which isn't necessarily what is best for me too.
His pending death is a reality I am still grappling with, and yet the grief I know I will feel when I lose him is a type of grief I can already feel myself trying to explain to other people. It's a grief I'm preemptively embarrassed of because he is just an animal, and we don't live in a world where the bonds between people and animals are usually honored.
The fact that more and more places of employment ARE acknowledging the importance of this bond is a sea change, of sorts. I hope more companies begin giving us the time we need to process the loss of a pet, even if it's just a day.