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Emotion Work of Coping with the Death of a Companion Animal

In: Society & Animals
Author:
Karyn McKinney Penn State University-Altoona Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA

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Abstract

This study uses qualitative data to explore how guardians cope with the death of animal companions. Respondents struggle with the expectations of a speciesist emotion culture that mediates bereavement following the death of a non-human animal. This struggle reveals four key aspects of emotion work: 1) justifying grief to themselves and others; 2) accepting that the companion animal has died at the “right time”; 3) using rituals, religion, or spirituality to cope; and 4) adopting a new animal companion.

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