To animal lovers, our pets are parts of our family. We cherish the moments we get with them and couldn’t imagine life without them. They grant us some of the best days of our lives and one of the worst.
If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know how devastating it can be. In fact, studies reveal that losing a pet can hurt just as much as losing a relative.
It’s common to feel heartbreak, pain, and deep sadness after the passing of a beloved pet. As you try coping with the loss of a pet, it’s completely normal to feel “out of it” or even depressed.
However, every pet owner experiences grief differently. Even members of the same family will most likely react to a pet’s passing in their own ways.
If you’re having trouble dealing with the loss of a pet, you’re not alone and your pain is so, so valid. Here are our tips to help you get through this difficult time.
- Give Yourself Permission to Feel
Feeling intense grief after a pet’s death is totally natural. Don’t let yourself or anyone try to make you feel silly or “too sentimental” for your emotions; instead, give yourself permission to feel, and if necessary, to feel deeply.
You may experience the range of emotions that accompany grief. The following are the five stages of grief which are commonly experienced after a significant loss:
- Denial: not wanting to believe that your pet is gone, trying to tell yourself that it’s not true and that you still have more time with them.
- Anger: a coping mechanism that redirects feelings of sadness and pain into anger at the situation
- Bargaining: using “what if” and “if only” statements, trying to bargain with a higher being in an attempt to get more time with your pet
- Depression: you feel lost, stuck, or unmotivated after the loss or you fall into a deep sadness when faced with reality
- Acceptance: you come to terms with your pet’s absence and can go on with life while remembering them
Giving yourself permission to experience grief and sadness will help you get closer to accepting the loss of your pet and moving on. Remember that some people take longer to cope with the loss of a pet, so don’t feel rushed to “move on” if you aren’t ready.
- Reflect and Remember
Death is hard, but reflecting on the good times you and your pet had together will make it more bearable.
Think of all of the years you spent side by side and set apart time during the early morning to write down your memories and feelings. Invite friends and family members who knew your pet over and share your favorite memories over some pizza or dessert.
Focusing on the positives and remembering the silly things your pet did will naturally help your mind deal with the sadness you’re feeling. If you’re grateful for the life you had with your animal, it’ll be harder to feel down.
- Memorialize Your Pet
Lots of pet owners like to memorialize their pets with photo books or shadow boxes. It’s a fun way to combine your favorite memories of your pet into something you’ll have forever.
If you’ve got loads of pictures of your fur baby, get them printed and then create a scrapbook or photo album! Using your creative skills will help ease your mind and you’ll end up with a keepsake that you can flip through and remember your pet by whenever you want.
Did your pet have a special collar, tag, or favorite treat? Use these items to place inside a memorial shadow box. You can include pictures, as well, or even a strand of their fur.
If you or a loved one has recently lost a pet cat, check out these cat memorial gift ideas that’ll help with coping.
- Know Your Pet Is Happy and Pain-Free
If you had to put your pet down because of old age or an illness, it’s important to remember that you did so for their own good. They were in pain and you didn’t want them to suffer anymore; you did what was right and what was best for them!
Know that, even after your pet is gone, their soul is finally released and they are free to run wild, jump, and play in a realm free of pain or sorrow. Something that helps pet owners deal with their pet’s loss is to picture their fur baby somewhere beautiful, running and playing with all of the other pets without a care in the world. Surely that’s what they’re doing!
- Consider Adoption
When a pet is gone, he or she leaves a hole in our lives. There’s a new, eerie quietness around the house, or there’s a feeling of emptiness in the bed at night.
If you’re an animal lover, it’s hard to be without a furry companion. They become part of our routines and help give us reasons to be alive!
Some pet owners decide to adopt another pet to help them cope with their loss. No, that doesn’t mean replacing them or “forgetting” about them. Your pet will always be special and there will never be another like him, but you can fill that dog-shaped hole in your heart with another sweet animal.
If being a pet owner is part of your identity, it might be right for you to adopt. Your pet would want you to rescue one of the animals in the animal shelters to give them the love they deserve. It’s a win-win!
Be Kind to Yourself While Coping With the Loss of a Pet
The death of a beloved pet comes with a pain that’s unmatched, but now that you have these tips, you can look forward to sunny days again. Remember, try to be kind to yourself while coping with the loss of a pet!
Did you find the information in this article helpful? If you did, go ahead and check out the rest of our posts about all things pets and animals.