What's your perception on pet loss? Something for you to think about…

July 7, 2011
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The story that I’m about to share with you really resonated with me. It resonated with me on many levels with one of them being in the area of the death of a pet. The perception by some on the topic as a whole regarding pet loss and the grief associated with it.

The perception by some that someone who’s grieving over the loss of an animal is weak. The perception by some that the loss of a beloved pet doesn’t need acknowledgment or the respect of sympathy. The perception by some that the loss of an animal is a lesser loss than the loss of a human being. And, the perception by some that people who grieve over the loss of an animal are crazy.

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So here’s another story on perception,Ö

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes: a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold – out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music. This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

So, was the perception that this guy playing an instrument in a train station was homeless? Poor? Mentally unstable? Odd? What?

So is the perception that a person experiencing the loss of a pet is odd? Weird? Unworthy of your care and sympathy because it’s not a real loss?

At the core of it all,Ö was the music less beautiful and is the loss less significant?

About Coleen Ellis

In 1998, a chance encounter with a pet parent facing the death of her beloved pet was a defining moment for Coleen, and the birth of her vision of how to best meet the needs of pet parents as they plan for, experience, and cope with the death of their beloved animal companions developed over the following few years. In 2004, the catalyst for bringing her vision to reality was the death of her then 14 year old beloved Schnauzer mix Mico. Within months, she founded Pet Angel Memorial Center, Inc.

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