Grief and Loss

Is mourning a pet a normal reaction?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My beloved dog passed away a few months ago after years of loving companionship. My friends think I should be over his death by now. Are they right?

DEAR READER: There's a reason dogs are called man's (and woman's) best friend: They offer unparalleled companionship and unconditional love. Especially unconditional love. That love is encapsulated in the wonderful prayer: "Lord, help me to become the person that my dog thinks I am." For most dog owners, a dog is a cherished member of the family.

How long is it OK to grieve a loss of a loved one?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My spouse passed away last year, and I am still grieving. Is this normal?

DEAR READER: By coincidence, I'm writing this reply to your question on the 51st anniversary of my father's death. He died very young. This is a sad day -- at least for me, this grief never fully ends.

How can I help a grieving friend?

DEAR DOCTOR K: A close friend suddenly and unexpectedly lost her spouse. How can I help her through her grief?

DEAR READER: It's not easy to console a grieving friend; you can't fix the situation. Instead, just be present and offer hope toward the future. Accept that your friend's grieving is a natural process that will gradually ebb. Here are a few specific, practical pieces of advice.