People recently bereaved gain greater comfort from their pets than they do from their priest or spiritual adviser, a new study suggests.
The survey found that a third of people mourning a loved one turned to their family, with a quarter relying friends and one in five getting support from children.
Lower down the list, pets ranked ahead of priests and spiritual advisers, books, films and professionals.
The study into the innovative bereavement care service at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital was carried out by researchers from Trinity College Dublin.
Beaumont Hospital was the first Irish hospital to appoint a bereavement co-ordinator.