Pet-related grief has been for the most part been overlooked in psychological research. The aim of this study was twofold. First, to investigate whether the ambiguous loss of one’s pet was associated with heightened grief compared to certain pet death; and second, to examine whether adaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies were related to less pet grief reactions compared to maladaptive ER strategies. One hundred and thirty-four bereaved individuals recruited from the UK and Australia completed an online survey. Within the Australian sample no significant difference in grief severity emerged between individuals who had experienced ambiguous pet loss (N = 10) vs. certain death (N = 65). For the second aim, based on 67 Australian and 56 UK participants who had experienced the death of their pet, maladaptive ER strategies including catastrophizing were positively associated with heightened grief, anger and trauma symptoms following pet death, while more ‘adaptive’ ER strategies were significantly associated with less grief, anger, trauma and guilt symptoms. The findings have clinical implications for individuals recovering from the death of their pet.
- emotion regulation