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Br J Psychol. 1994 May;85 ( Pt 2):259-71.

Bereavement following death of a pet.

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Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.


A 40-item questionnaire based on reactions following human bereavement was used to investigate the occurrence of grief following death of a pet in a sample of 88 people. Items indicating initial numbness or disbelief, preoccupation with the loss, a loss of part of themselves and being drawn towards reminders were endorsed by half to four-fifths of the sample. About a quarter reported the urge to search, avoidance or mitigation strategies, anger, anxiety and depression. The questionnaire showed high internal reliability, and total scores were significantly positively correlated with the degree of affective attachment to the pet, the suddenness of the death and whether the respondent lived alone; but not with the type of pet, the time since it had died, and how long the owner had been with it. Factor analysis of the questionnaire revealed one main factor accounting for about a third of the variance, described as emotional distress associated with the loss; two lesser factors involved items representing personal importance of the loss and a feeling of continued attachment. Overall these findings indicate a parallel reaction to that following a human bereavement, but with a lower frequency of affective distress. Moderator variables were also comparable with those known to be important for grief following a human loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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