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Pet Loss

Posted by Annette 01/10/2018 0 Comment(s)

Losing a loved pet is so hard for us as adults.  What about our kids?  They lack the maturity and experience to deal with pet loss on the same level as us.  How do we explain this to them?  Many times this is their first experience with death.  The child may blame you or believe that you will die soon too, creating feelings of anger, confusion and anxiety along with the inevitable sadness.  Parents who deal with the situation with honesty and transparency will likely help their children cope with the loss of a pet better than those who don’t talk about it at all or invent a story such as “the pet ran away.”  If not truthful with the child, the child may spend years waiting for the dog to return, may believe they are responsible for the pet running away and develop feelings of guilt and may not be able to develop a relationship with any future pets.  Let’s look at some positive, healthy ways to approach this difficult time with our little people.

 

  1. When Euthanasia is the decision
    1. It’s important to explain to your children why you’ve chosen euthanasia.  If your pet is ill or injured to the point where they are in constant pain and have no quality of life, sometimes the most loving and difficult decision you can make is to help them end the pain and suffering in a peaceful, humane way. 
    2. Allow your child to grieve, feel sad and talk about the pet and the decision.  As long as you are choosing to put your pet to sleep for the right reasons, no guilt should be felt.
  2. Talk about it
    1. Allowing your child to see you express your emotions at the loss of your pet will help them do the same without guilt or shame. 
    2. Allow your child to create a memento such as a paw print in plaster or a special photo framed so that they will always have a connection to their loved pet.
    3. Involve them in the memorial service if they would like to be involved.  The service can provide an open forum to express their feelings at the loss.
    4. Don’t be so fast to adopt a new pet into the family.  Children need time to grieve their friend and it could send the message that sadness and grief can be overcome by simply replacing the pet.

 

What about our seniors?  We are all affected in different ways when we lose a beloved pet.  Seniors have a whole other set of issues to address.  Let’s take a look at why seniors are a little different.

 

As we age, we lose more and more loved ones.  Family members and life-long friends depart and we are left many times living alone with only our dogs for companionship.  As retired individuals we no longer have a work-life to act as a distraction. When our dogs pass at this stage in our lives, it presents a new challenge to our sense of self-worth as caring for the pet was a major function and purpose in our lives.  So, how do we help seniors through this trying time?

 

  1. Encourage them to stay connected with friends.  Once a day they should try to have contact with one of their friends.  They could make a lunch or coffee date, go see a movie or go for a walk together.  Continued interaction with others will help ward off depression and improve their outlook.
  2. Keep them busy.  Rekindle their interest in an old hobby or encourage them to try something new.  If your senior has talked about trying that new thing but never found the time to do it, now's the time!  Local community colleges offer classes which may be of interest or perhaps they can find a way to give back.  So many worthy organizations need help now.  Giving back to others is another boost to the sense of self-worth and is a mood elevator.
  3. Stay active.  Activity boosts the immune system and mood.  Mention joining a new class at the gym, going golfing or heading out for a walk around the neighborhood.  Wave at the neighbors.  They may even make a few new friends along the way.

 

If you truly love another, you will feel the pain when they pass.  The joy your relationship brings to your life far outweighs the grief when the inevitable occurs.  Lean on each other and know that better days are coming.  Love to all who are walking this path. 

We recently lost these beautiful souls:

 

 

Crazy Bronson.  This nutty guy loved to chase bubbles, jump and play.  We remember him leaning into our legs with great drama waiting to get the attention he so richly deserved.  He was so gentle with the children in his family and full of personality.  We’ll miss you, buddy!

 

 

Tiffany was independent and wouldn’t take any nonsense from the other boys (doggies) in the family.  When she would show her feisty side, they would back down.  After all, she was a whopping 6lbs!  She and the other dogs roamed the fields during the day, demanded to be in front of the gas logs every night and in Mama’s bed when it was time to snooze the night away. 

 

Sweet doggies, you add so much to our lives.  The pain we endure when you leave us is no match for the love and joy you provide. 

 

Tell us about your sweet babies and what they meant to you.  We would love to see photos too!

 

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