Coping with the loss of a pet is undeniably painful no matter how prepared you thought you would be. Even if we are fully aware and try to accept that our beloved pets will eventually pass, no amount of consolation or preparation will be enough when the day does finally arrive.
Often, the most challenging aspect of the grieving process can be due to the lack of emotional support we receive from loved ones. Grieving pet owners can often be expected to quickly bounce back to normal life and move on after the loss of a pet. This is unfortunately due to the common viewpoint that pets can be easily replaced, while losing a human loved one can be considered to be a greater loss, and therefore, more difficult to grieve as well.
However, losing a pet who was a beloved member of the family can feel like a tremendous loss. And while we can adopt a new pet to once again bring joy and love into our lives, a new pet can never replace the loss of another one. After all, there is nothing wrong with viewing the loss of your pet as that of the loss of a family member or a precious friend. In the end, a pet’s unconditional love and comfort they provided us with during their life is surely a reason to feel profound grief and sadness after their loss.
There is no amount of consolation or words that can take the pain away, but we hope to share this guide to help grieving owners better cope with the insurmountable loss of their pet.
The first thing to do as part of the healing process is to acknowledge that your feelings are valid and real. Understand that grieving the loss of your pet doesn’t mean that you are weak or behaving in an overly emotional manner.
Losing a pet can certainly be a traumatic time for you and your family, especially your children who may also feel a tremendous loss from their cherished pet’s passing. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Understand that you are not necessarily expected to bounce back or fully move on without first grieving their loss.
Taking some time to honor your pet’s memory as well as reminiscing on the special times you spent with them during their life is not only perfectly acceptable, but can make the grieving process more bearable as well. It can also help you more easily find peace and closure for your pet’s loss than if you denied yourself the chance to grieve due to feeling ashamed or guilty for needing to do so. Attempting to suppress emotions can often serve as a quick fix to the underlying problem but unfortunately, at some point your sadness can come bubbling back up to the surface, bringing you back to square one.
Allow yourself to feel your pain, host a goodbye ceremony or memorial service if you need to, hold onto your cherished memories, and give thanks to your beloved pet for the special companion they were as well as the precious time you spent together.
During a stressful time, a loved one’s support can provide profound comfort to a heartbroken soul. Surround yourself with loved ones and friends who are willing to offer the compassion and consolation you need during this time. Confide in your loved ones about your love for your precious pet, and reflect on your special memories that you shared with them. Allowing loved ones to share in the experience of remembering and honoring the loss of a pet is a wonderful way of paying your pet tribute, as well as keeping their memory alive in your heart.
You can also try finding an online forum for other pet owners who are also grieving the loss of their pet who can relate to the pain you are experiencing, as well as find out about other coping strategies to help you during your grieving process.
Journaling is an activity that is often used to help people express and organize their feelings as well as gain a better understanding of them. It can help you heal your grieving spirit by enabling you the opportunity to take advantage of a safe place to open up about the pain you are experiencing. Consider setting a designated time to write down what you are feeling, and fully acknowledge your thoughts and emotions.
It is normal to often feel stuck or helpless after the loss of a beloved pet. During such an emotionally challenging time, it can be helpful to find outlets that enable you to channel your pain in a positive and productive way.
Volunteering at an animal shelter can be a great way of finding relief that can also eventually help you find peace and closure for your loss. Being able to help other animals by providing them with love and compassion, can help you better cope with your own pet’s passing. Spending time with animals can be incredibly therapeutic for those who are grieving, and can therefore be especially helpful in providing you with the comfort you need during this time, as well as raise your spirits.
Remember, a new pet is an entirely new being than your beloved companion who passed away, who also deserves your full love and compassion to live a healthy and happy life. Rushing the process of adopting a new pet before properly grieving the loss of another one can be detrimental for you and your new pet. Most experts agree that it is best for grieving pet owners to first focus on properly healing and moving on from their grief before adopting a new pet.
Keep in mind, again everyone grieves differently and there is no specific amount of time in which you are expected to finish grieving and move on. Allow yourself time to mend your heartbroken spirit and then when you are ready, invite another beloved pet companion into your life.