What animal lovers know: Losing a pet can be like losing a member of the family.
For example, a cat that comes into a young family may still be there when the kids go off to college.
In addition, "It could be that animals bring out untapped resources in ourselves that we don't use as much as when we are spending time solely with most humans. These are resources are essential to our overall well-being and bring us to our core," writes Lorrie Shaw of AnnArbor.com in this thoughtful article that discusses the oxytocin bond we share with pets, as well as the trend of pet loss support groups.
For people who don't have family or others they're close to, a pet may be the primary social relationship. Yet, when your cat or dog dies, many people can't understand why you're so broken up.
It's good to have groups of people who understand how deep this bond can go.