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The Psychology Of Loss: An Emotionally Invested Keeper's Perspective



Two goldfish gone in the span of a couple of months. Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty lost at the moment.

I believe Clementine is, too.

Now, people always say not to place one's emotions on to animals, because they don't feel them as we do. I can tell you that the latter half of the statement is completely true: They don't feel them the same way we do. The first half I can be skeptical about, all because we'd need to invent new ways to describe these feelings. So, do Goldfish feel lost or sad? Can they miss their companions? Many keepers would agree with me that they can feel those emotions and feelings in some way. It may not be exactly human sadness, nor exactly human loss, but it is similar.

Those of you who observe your goldfish know when they are just a little 'off' and what that 'off' usually means. I saw the same 'off'- ness on two occasions with Clementine: When she and Elvis moved to the 55 and Hoover was left behind to undergo treatment, and when I took Elvis out for treatment. She appeared both worried and sad. She would refuse to come to me when I came to the tank, or refuse to make eye contact with me. Upon each fish's loss, she would just float around the tank with a droopy demeanor, as if she knew. She very well may have, since both of my dearly departed babies had to go past the 55 to get to outside.

Though my heart may be heavy, I try my hardest not to place that emotion on her; to observe her from a third-party perspective. She still looks lost and lonely. She still doesn't always come when called or make eye contact. She has bouts of happiness, as do I. We're both mourning. We're both trying, alone and together, to comfort each other.

If I know of one being in this world that could mend my broken heart, it's Clementine. But when both of our hearts are broken this becomes so difficult. Clem lost both of her friends, and I lost two of my 'children.' I think this is one of the times when I wish Goldfish were cuddly.

And I know it will be a long while until I feel like my heart is taped up enough to handle a new fish, but I also worry for Clementine's loneliness. She's by herself in a big home, looking so melancholy. When do I just 'suck it up' and search for the perfect companion? How will the new fish be able to steal my heart if it's still broken?

I guess I'll see.

I apologize. I just needed to get this out.


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Great post. Again I am sorry for you lose.

Maybe you should try a mirror for Clem?

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aaww hun, when i lost Pork Chop, i was ready to give the hobby up. but the community here helped me to pull through. then a nasty parasite that caused anaemia & an array of other problems claimed another 8 lives (giants). cross contamination caused the death of many totts too :( i was soooooo ready to throw the towel in and give up. again, the community here is what kept me going...

i keep saying, i'm done, no more. currently, that's where i am at. i haven't replaced a fish for so long, i have only half a dozen now from nearly 30 :o . i dunno, i keep saying my 'stock' and haven't named any new fish for some time. it feels like the umph is gone, but still, it hurts just as bad when one of my 'stock' is sick & doesn't recover.

Clem will be fine for some time. she has you :) take your time and get her a friend when you're ready. she will be fine with some 'alone' time.

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That's definitely more Hell than I went through. :(:hug

I'm nowhere near ready to give up, but I am nervous about 'moving on.' One of the worst feelings I have now is to feel like I've disrespected the memories of Hoover and Elvis by even thinking of getting another fish so soon after their deaths. After seeing how Clem's behaving alone (mopes, boredom, sadness) though, I keep thinking 'she really needs somebody.'

I know this could be an opportunity for us to get even closer, or it could turn into an opportunity to find the perfect mate for her. And it's all on me to decide what is best for her and my soul, both.

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