University of Sussex
I dont feel judged I just feel loved_Accepted Manuscript.pdf (391.01 kB)

“I don’t feel judged. I just feel love”: Perceptions of animals as support for grievers

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-12, 16:09 authored by Joanne Cacciatore, Richard GormanRichard Gorman, Kara Thieleman, Mariah Sullivan
This study explored the ways in which nonhuman animals were perceived to provide social support for grievers. A content analysis was conducted and four key qualities of nonhuman companion animals were identified: 1) presence, 2) continuity and purpose, 3) mutuality and connection, and 4) nature of response. Results suggest that people perceive animals to play an important role in providing emotional support through their presence and tactile experiences, to enhance a sense of purpose after loss, and perceived nonjudgmental acceptance of the griever is highly valued. Additionally, some respondents may feel closer to their loved one through contact with animals associated with them. The type of support perceived from animals overlaps in some ways with human support yet is unique in many ways. Animal support may be especially important for grieving people during pandemic isolation and in the absence of strong social networks.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version


Society & Animals





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • BSMS Publications
  • Clinical and Experimental Medicine Publications


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes