Coping with Pet Loss
This is a tough subject. There is no easy way to deal with the loss of a loved pet; but the reality is that at some point we all have to endure this pain if we love. We wouldn’t normally address something so heavy here on the blog; but so many close to us have lost their beloved dogs recently that we felt it was a topic that should be covered.
The grief experienced when you lose your pet is real. Some are comforted by the thought of their dog romping and playing in the sunshine with other pets across the Rainbow Bridge. Some choose to simply deal with the pain and move on and yet others jump right in and bring a new little fur baby into their lives. No matter how you and your family choose to cope with the loss, there are some things to note about your grief.
- Your pain is real.
- Grief, anger, depression, anxiety and even guilt are some emotions we may walk through at the loss of our pet. Your feelings are your feelings. Don’t let anyone diminish what you are feeling because it was “just a dog.” We all know that’s far from the truth. They are our constant companions providing love, joy, comforting us when we are sad, cuddling up next to us when we are ill, keeping us active running, fetching, hiking and going for long walks. For many of us they are confidants. We have told our dogs many things which we would never trust to other human ears. If they are a service dog or working dog, you’ve also lost a co-worker and possibly your independence. When you lose them, you are allowed to feel everything you are feeling. You are completely justified.
- The grief process takes time.
- For some, this is measured in weeks; some in months and some in years. What’s important is that you give yourself the time to grieve in the manner that best helps you. Bottling it up rarely is the answer.
- Work through the grief.
- You may want to arrange for a pet funeral or celebration of life to achieve the closure you seek. Be aware that there will be people who think it’s inappropriate to conduct such a ceremony for a pet. Ignore those people. If this scenario helps you and family members share memories, laugh at the goofy things your dog did and the things he did to make you smile, then do it. Many cities have pet cemeteries and can help you plan this. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
- Create an album or scrapbook starring your pet. Reliving the fun times through your photos may help you remember the happy times, honor your dog and help you cope with the loss.
- Surround yourself with others who have a genuine love of pets. They will understand and empathize with your situation. Many have been there before and it can help to talk with them and get your feelings out.
- Seek professional help if you experience an ongoing depressed feeling. There are many professionals who treat grief of all kinds. This is really not that different from dealing with the grief over losing a person. Our dogs are with us and a major part of our lives every single day. It is absolutely natural to experience extreme grief; but if it’s interfering in your ability to function, please seek professional help.
- Take care of yourself.
- It’s important to eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. When you take care of your physical being, you are equipped to deal with the emotional and mental challenges of losing your pet.
At this time we would like to honor some of the beautiful souls our family and friends have recently lost.
Max was a handsome devil. Especially known for cuddling and consistent petting needs, he was his Mama’s boy and a constant, loving and loyal companion. We will miss you, Sweet Maxie.
Oh, Flash, you were a big slobber-puss. We can hear your baying now. He loved his family and endured his little basset brother hassling him with patience and a sweet disposition. He thought he was a lap dog. Who were we to tell him differently? Miss you, Flashie!
These wonderful souls will live on in our fondest memories and be in our hearts forever. Next time we will talk about the special needs of children and seniors when it comes to losing a pet. We would love to hear from you about how you have dealt with this type of grief in the past.