Losing A Pet: Dealing With Grief

It can be difficult for those without pets to understand the great weight of sorrow that can effect you after the loss of a beloved animal. To many people pets are just another member of the family. You dedicate years of your life to caring for them. You seek out pet sitters instead of baby sitters, you care for them when they are sick and you take them out for treats and play dates. The reward you get for your efforts is their humbling devotion and unconditional love. When a pet dies, be it unexpectedly or after an illness, it can be all the more difficult to cope with the loss. Socially many people don’t extend the same sympathies as in the case of a traditional family death. We hope that some of the ideas below will help you to overcome the sorrow from losing a pet. Please feel free to share your experiences with us and others below.

Coping With Losing A Pet

  • Shun the taboo – Don’t let others define how you should feel and don’t feel ashamed for being sad or “off your game” after losing a pet. You may find it easier to limit your social interactions to those who have also lost their furry companions to minimize scorn or lack of understanding.
  • Create closure – a ‘funeral’ may not always be an option when you’ve lost a pet but that doesn’t mean that you can’t provide for yourself the same closure. Set aside a moment for remembrance and saying goodbye. Even if it’s simply a walk in their favorite park or framing and hanging your favorite picture of them. All these are rituals of closure that are healthy.
  • Maintain routine – this is especially important if you have other pets.  Keeping your routine is a step toward moving forward and can help  keep you from getting bogged down. Was walking your pet at a certain time part of your routine? Take the walk solo and dedicate that time to their memory.
  • Don’t make an impulse buy/adoption – running out for a replacement is a common impulse after losing a pet. Sometimes this can just prolong the grief though and prevent you from both fully honoring and dealing with your emotions from your former pet. It can also keep you from fully bonding with the new one. It’s best to wait until your head is clear before you move on to a new companion.

For more help grieving the loss of a pet, check out this site and learn how to help your children cope as well. Losing a pet can be an important life lesson in dealing with grief. Don’t deny yourself  or others this need.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/road_less_trvled/1974546699/”>road_less_trvled</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>

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