5 Tips On Coping With Pet Loss
When a pet dies, it can be a devastating blow for every member of the family. They are more than just pets; they are your family. However, moving on from the grief can be very difficult. The special bond between people and their pets can never be broken, but when it comes time to say goodbye, it’s a lengthy and emotional process. Anyone who considers a pet a beloved friend, companion, or family member knows the
intense pain that accompanies the loss of that friend. Following are some tips on coping with that grief.
What Can I Expect to Feel?
Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides your sorrow and loss, you may also, experience the following emotions:
• Guilt may occur if you feel responsible for your pet’s death—the “if only I had been more careful” syndrome. It is pointless and often erroneous to burden yourself with guilt for the accident or illness that claimed your pet’s life and only makes it more difficult to resolve your grief.
• Denial makes it difficult to accept that your pet is really gone. It’s hard to imagine that your pet won’t greet you when you come home, or that it doesn’t need its evening meal. Some pet owners carry this to extremes and fear their pet is still alive and suffering somewhere. Others find it hard to get a new pet for fear of being “disloyal” to the old.
• Anger may be directed at the illness that killed your pet, the driver of the speeding car, the veterinarian who “failed” to save its life. Sometimes it is justified, but when carried to extremes, it distracts you from the important task of resolving your grief.
• Depression is a natural consequence of grief but can leave you powerless to cope with your feelings. Extreme depression robs you of motivation and energy, causing you to dwell upon your sorrow.
Am I crazy to hurt so much?
Intense grief over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s silly, crazy, or overly sentimental to grieve! During the years you spent with your pet (even if they were few), it became a significant and constant part of your life. It was a source of comfort and companionship, of unconditional love and acceptance, of fun and joy. So don’t be surprised if you feel devastated by the loss of such a
relationship. People who don’t understand the pet/owner bond may not understand your pain. All that matters, however, is how you feel. Don’t let others dictate your feelings: They are valid and may be extremely painful. But remember, you are not alone: Thousands of pet owners have gone through the same feelings.
Who can I talk to?
If your family or friends love pets, they’ll understand what you’re going through. Don’t hide your feelings in a misguided effort to appear strong and calm! Working through your feelings with another person is one of the best ways to put them in perspective and find ways to handle them. Find someone you can talk to about how much the pet meant to you and how much you miss it—someone you feel comfortable crying and grieving with. If you don’t have family or friends who understand, or if you need more help, ask your veterinarian or humane association to recommend a pet loss counselor or support group. Check with your church or hospital for grief counseling. Remember, your grief is genuine and deserving of support.
What can I do about my feelings?
The most important step you can take is, to be honest about your feelings. Don’t deny your pain or your feelings of anger and guilt. Only by examining and coming to terms with your feelings can you begin to work through them. You have a right to feel pain and grief! Someone you loved has died, and you feel alone and bereaved. You have a right to feel anger and guilt, as well. Acknowledge your feelings first, then ask yourself whether the circumstances actually justify them. Locking away grief doesn’t make it go away. Express it. Cry, scream, pound the floor, talk it out. Do what helps you the most. Don’t try to avoid grief by not thinking about your pet; instead, reminisce about the good times. This will help you understand what your pet’s loss actually means to you. Some find it helpful to express their feelings and memories in poems, stories, or letters to the pet. Other strategies include rearranging your schedule to fill in the times you would have spent with your pet; preparing a memorial such as a photo collage, and talking to others about your loss.
What should I tell my children?
You are the best judge of how much information your children can handle about death and the loss of their pet. Don’t underestimate them, however. You may find that, by being honest with them about your pet’s loss, you may be able to address some fears and misperceptions they have about death. Honesty is important. If you say the pet was “put to sleep,” make sure your children understand the difference between death and ordinary sleep. Never say the pet “went away,” or your child may wonder what he or she did to make it leave, and wait in anguish for its return. That also makes it harder for a child to accept a new pet. Make it clear that the pet will not come back, but that it is happy and free of pain. Never assume a child is too young or too old to grieve. Never criticize a child for tears, or tell them to “be strong” or not to feel sad. Be honest about your own sorrow; don’t try to hide it, or children may feel required to hide their grief as well. Discuss the issue with the entire family, and give everyone a chance to work through their grief at their own pace.
5 Ideas Memorializing A Pet
At the time a pet family member is lost it is difficult to express the right words to comfort them. A beautiful Pet Bereavement gift for a grieving pet owner. Listen to the wind, watch me spin, and know I am near. Believe it or not, shopping can be immensely therapeutic.
Custom Pajamas personalized with your pet’s photo,
Custom Pet Pillows personalized with your pet’s photo,
Custom Metal Wall Art Sign
Custom Stuffed Animal Pet Clone to look like your dog or cat,
Another beautiful option is a personalized metal memorial wind spinner.
Keep your pet’s memory alive. Honor the loss of your pet. Any of these would be perfect pet loss memorial gifts when you are saying goodbye and coping with the loss of your beloved pet. They are all beautiful keepsakes to be cherished for years to come.
Pawlywood Pets and its pawlywoodpets.com website and social media accounts provide general canine information for the express purpose of educating and entertaining readers. The information is provided for the sole purpose of enhancing the user’s knowledge and understanding of dogs. This information is in no way intended to be used to diagnose, direct treatment for, or as a prognosis of any health condition of any animal and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining professional veterinary advice in a specific situation.
Never disregard veterinary advice or delay in seeking it. If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, CONTACT YOUR VETERINARIAN immediately.
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