Lorde and Sia’s Moving Posts Remind Us That Grieving Our Pets is Normal

Lorde has delayed the release of her new album after losing her dog, Pearl.  (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, both Lorde and Sia expressed themselves with heartfelt candor after losing their beloved dogs. Sia said goodbye to her 16-year-old "best friend" Pantera, and Lorde lost Pearl, a chronically sick pup she adopted last year. Neither held back about the depth of grief they were experiencing—something a lot of people mourning pets struggle to do for fear of being dismissed or mocked.

Sia thanked her fans for keeping her "sober and alive" as she mourned Pantera's death.

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And Lorde explained that she was feeling the loss of her pup so intensely, it was going to delay the release of her next album.

In a tear-jerking email to her fans, the singer wrote:

This loss has been indescribably painful, and a light that was turned on for me has gone out… The bright energy I was trying to communicate to you has gone, for now. [Pearl] was instrumental to the discovery that was taking place. I felt he led me toward the ideas. And it’s going to take some time and recalibration now that there’s no shepherd ahead of me, to see what the work is going to be. So I’m asking for your patience. I have lost my boy, and I need some time to see the good again, to finish making this for you. It won’t be the same work—as anyone who has felt loss can understand, there’s a door that opens that you step through, and everything is different on the other side.

As The Washington Post's Joe Yonan wrote in 2012, "the death of a pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative." That remains a rarely recognized fact thanks to the persistent idea that, in the grand scheme of things, much worse things happen every day than the death of Fido or Felix.

Given the fact that Americans spend an estimated $72.56 billion a year on their pets, there is a vast gulf between how much we love our animals and the amount of time we consider socially acceptable for coping with their loss. Pet grief remains woefully under-acknowledged. Even when we do bother, it's frequently treated in the most glib of ways—greeting cards about rainbow bridges, or too-soon suggestions about replacement animals.

With all that considered, the fact that Sia admitted that her dog's death put both her sobriety and her life in danger is extraordinary, as is Lorde's unapologetic request for time away from her work while she heals. (Let's not forget that bereavement leave for animal death is still extremely rare and sometimes even frowned upon.)

In an article last year, Scientific American suggested we need to shift our attitudes toward pet loss significantly for essential mental health-related reasons. "We may feel embarrassed and even ashamed about the severity of the heartbreak we feel and, consequently, hesitate to disclose our feelings to our loved ones," Guy Winch wrote. "That additional shame complicates the process of recovery by making it more lengthy and complex than it should be... It is time we gave grieving pet owners the recognition, support and consideration they need."

Lorde and Sia just gave us rare and powerful examples of how to ask for those.

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