Coping With the Death Of A Pet
The loss of a pet can be one of the most heart-wrenching experiences we will ever go through. While it is expected that we feel sorrow and mourn the loss of a loved one, the loss of a beloved pet can be just as difficult or harder to bear for many.
A dog or cat is a faithful friend, offering unconditional love, companionship and fun. When that intense bond is irretrievably lost, it can be emotionally devastating. Although people who are not pet parents may not understand your grief, rest assured that those who have known the joy of having a pet in their lives will understand. Though your pet is no longer physically with you, the cherished memories will always remain within your heart.
"Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives."~John Galsworthy
What Feelings Can I Expect?
There is a wide range of feelings you may experience over the loss of your pet. Experts classify the stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Any or all of these feelings are normal, as everyone grieves differently.
There is no "right" or "wrong" way to mourn the loss of a pet. Many pet guardians who have had to make the difficult decision to euthanize their pet feel guilt wondering whether they made the right decision. The thought that it is better to let your pet go a week too early than making this decision even a day too late may be comforting. Relieving your pet of suffering and providing a peaceful passing is your last loving gift to him or her.
How Long Until I Feel Better?
Allow yourself plenty of time to feel sorrow as you work through the grief process.
You should not feel embarrassed about the depth of your feelings. The amount of time it may take you to get over the loss of your pet is also individual. Even though it may not seem that you will ever feel better, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time until you are able to remember your furry friend with more smiles and fewer tears.
What Might Help Me Get Over My Grief?
Talking with an understanding friend or family member about your pet and your feelings of loss may help you work through your sadness.
Memorializing your pet is a therapeutic exercise in dealing with grief or depressing feelings. Discuss a happy memory with your friends or family and discuss your feelings. If you prefer to keep your feelings private, try writing down your thoughts in a journal. Many people feel moved to write a poem about their pet, create a special memorial, or plant a tree in honor of their special friend. Frame a special photo of your pet, or create a photo album to keep your pet's memory close.
Should I Get Another Pet?
When you feel emotionally ready, consider bringing another pet into your home.
Even though you can never replace the pet you have lost, you can build a new, different bond with another pet. Adopting a homeless dog or cat in need of a loving home is an excellent way to honor the memory of your pet.
If you are having difficulty moving beyond the sadness caused by the loss of your pet, don't feel afraid or ashamed to seek professional help.
When we make the decision to bring a pet into our lives, we open our hearts to love and happiness. Loss is just a part of the journey you and your pet will take together. Take joy in the happiness you provided your pet throughout his or her lifetime and remember that, although your pet is no longer physically with you, the cherished memories will always remain within your heart.