Grieving Loss of a Pet: Tips
by Mike Stiven
Grieving a pet can be a lot like mourning the loss of a human family member. Therefore, you may feel sad, lonely, or isolated. These emotions are normal and there’s no need to feel ashamed or worry that there’s something wrong with you. You’ve probably heard about five or seven stages of grief but everyone has a different experience and it’s impossible to predict how you will feel. Furthermore, each member of the family will grieve in their own way.
Not everyone will understand the intensity of your feelings but there are some who will. Instead of pushing away your emotions and trying to be strong, express your feelings and seek support from those who can help. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways in which you and your family can manage your grief.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family. Simply talking through your feelings with someone who cares about you can make you feel better. It may also be helpful to join a pet support group – either online or in-person. While your loved ones may mean well, they may not truly be able to understand what you’re going through. If your grief is preventing you from sleeping, eating, or participating in daily life, it may be time to book a session with a therapist;you may need expert guidance in coping with your loss.
Therapy can help people of all ages to improve their coping skills. Some therapists specialize in pet bereavement so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about seeking professional support for yourself or your kids.
Grieving Loss of a Pet- Take Care of Yourself
It’s important that you practice self-care both immediately after your dog or cat dies and in the long-term. You need to make sure you’re in the best health mentally and physically: try to get exercise, eat balanced meals, and get adequate sleep. You should also try to put time aside for reading, meditating, practicing yoga, soaking in a warm bath, or journaling. In addition, it may be helpful to try a new hobby.
Let Go of Your Pet’s Items At Your Own Pace
You may think you need to get rid of your dog’s leash or your cat’s bed and toys as soon as they have passed. This may help some people with their healing, however, you’re under no obligation to let go of things right away. Your grief and healing are unique to you. If you want to wait a bit and get rid of things gradually, it’s okay to do so.
Pay Attention to Kids Who Are Grieving
Children often find it difficult to process the death of a pet. It may be their first experience with death and they may not understand what has happened. You’ll need to provide comfort while also being as honest as possible. You may be inclined to tell a child that the animal is sleeping or that it ran away. However, they may just add to their confusion since they may continually expect the dog or cat to return. They may also blame themselves for the fact that the animal is gone. The way you talk to your child will depend on their age and maturity but try to explain that the animal is never coming back. Do your best to answer their questions and give them the support they need.
Don’t Rush to Get a New Pet If You Aren’t Ready
You may think that the best way to deal with the pain of losing a pet is to get another one. For some people, adopting another pet in short order helps them to heal. However, doing so can delay healing in some people or elicit confusing emotions. The house may seem quiet without your cat or dog but you may not be ready to care for another animal. Also, some people in the household may be ready for a new pet while others are not. It’s best to wait until everyone is excited about meeting a new pet. In the interim, you can test the waters by volunteering at a shelter or visiting a friend’s pet. When the time is right, you’ll know.
Find a Way to Memorialize Your Pet
In spite of your sadness, you’ll probably want to celebrate your pet’s life and create a tribute to them. There are numerous ways in which you can achieve this. Some families hold a funeral or memorial service during which they bury the animal’s collar, scatter their ashes, or even read a eulogy. While you may have lots of photos of your pet on your phone, many people enjoy having a tangible reminder of the special bond they shared with their cat or dog.
Printed photos, decorative urns, and photo albums are popular. You can also plant a tree in their favorite spot, or order cremation jewelry for pets’ ashes. With personalized pet cremation jewelry, you can carry around a small portion of your furry friend’s ashes everywhere you go. They’ll be with you even when they’re no longer alive.
Losing a pet is always hard but as you work through your grief, you can find peace. You can even feel happy again when you think about the memories your family shared with the pet. The most important thing you can do is let grief take its course and seek help when necessary.
Remember: grieving the loss of a pet is very similar in many aspects to the grief you experience when losing a family member. Never hesitate to seek comfort and support from the rest of your family, through this difficult time.