Grieving the Loss of a Pet – One Day at a Time
14 September, 2015
There is no easy, magical way to overcome the loss of one of our beloved fur kids. They provide us with so much unconditional love and affection and keep our homes alive. Our pets are so special to us and are an integral part of our daily lives and when they are taken from us, the feeling of loss is profound. AND there are no rules to combat grief as each one of us heals differently and at our own pace.
Our pets are a dynamic part of our family
Our pets are our fur kids. They provide us with companionship, emotional support, and unconditional love and warmth. They don’t talk back (well sometimes they do!), are always happy to see you and don’t go through their terrible teenage years! There is nothing more comforting than coming home to see your dog wagging his tail or your cat running to the door to greet you (or even look at you amused from afar).
Given the intense bond we feel for our pets, it is only natural to feel devastated when a pet dies. You may also feel shocked, confused, angry, or have trouble sleeping or even difficulty focusing. And this is normal.
Grieving is natural and there is no right or wrong way
There truly is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people may not understand the intense feelings you have for your pet, but you should never feel guilty or ashamed about grieving for your beloved baby. The key to coping is to accept your feelings and embrace the emotions you feel. Be with family and friends that understand how your feel. Friends who have never had pets will not get it and you do not need to explain yourself to anyone!
Grief can also be compounded by the role your beloved pet played in your life. If you live alone and you only have one pet, accepting this loss can be even harder. Or if you attempted to get help for an older pet and/or if your pet died at a young age, you might even feel a greater despair. But, know that this happens to all of us and no pet parent is responsible.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you want to feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready. It might help to alter your routine if the same one reminds you of your loss and makes it harder to cope.
You might consider doing something special to memorialize his or her death. You can plant a tree in his or her memory, compile a photo album or scrapbook, keep your pets’ ashes nearby or share the memories you enjoyed with your pet.
Losing a pet can be very stressful and can affect your health
It is important to take care of yourself during this time. The stress of losing a pet can quickly deplete your energy and make you feel especially vulnerable. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, (even if nights are hard), and exercise regularly to help boost your mood.
If you have other pets, they usually feel the loss as well. They will grieve in their own way and/or will become upset with your sorrow. It is important to keep up with their daily routine or even increase their play time which, in the end, will help both of you.
Some owners feel the need to get a new pet right away. Others take more time. Do whatever feels right and makes you happy. Everyone has a different time frame and only you know when or if you are ready for another pet. It could be a week or even a year. And don’t feel bad about your choice. Ever!
There is no easy way to deal with the loss of your beloved fur kid. However, while we never get over the loss, time does help lessen the pain and helps us enjoy and cherish the memories.
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