Dealing With The Loss Of a Beloved Pet

April 6, 2017

Losing a pet is not easy on any front. We take a look at some basic steps to help you, or a friend, along their journey of grief, loss and sadness.

Feeling the immense sadness when you say goodbye to a cherished companion is never easy. It’s an unnerving thought for pet owners that most will outlive their beloved animals, and that the eventual heavy heartache and sorrow is unavoidable.

Many of our canine and feline friends – or feathered and furred companions – have been beside us through the great times, the challenging times and the laughter of our lives. When it comes time to say our final farewells, it can leave many of us feeling hollow and grim.

The best advice is to surround yourself with pet lovers and avoid those who do not understand your pain. Some people are incapable of understanding how you feel unless they are pet owners or have felt the unbearable loss themselves.

Other things to consider are;

  1. Give yourself time to grieve. Our pets are family members, and it is OK to allow yourself ample time to heal.
  2. Make a special place where you can remember your pet. This could be a statue or a remembrance stone. You could consider sprinkling ashes or even a burial in this special place. Visit this place often; it will help you feel close to your pet.
  3. Talk. Find a friend or family member you can talk to freely about your loss and what you are feeling.
  4. If you are struggling, seek professional help. There is no shame is being honest if you cannot cope. For some pet lovers, the pain can be intolerable, seeking professional help can arm you with the right tools to get through this blackness.
  5. Find a perfect picture and frame it. Soon this will be looked at with smiles and not tears.

Children
If you have children, there are some wonderful books on the market that can help you walk your child through this moment of pain. These are particularly good for very small children. For older children, remember that it is OK to cry together. Encourage them to share their fond memories of your pet and to talk through their heartache.

If it is a sudden death, this can be harder to explain to children. However, if your pet has come to the end of their life, it’s a good idea to talk with your children before you say a final goodbye. Let them say goodbye in their own way and have a plan for where you will bury your pet, or where you will keep their ashes.

You are the best judge of what your children need, or should, know during this time. Please remember to use the word ‘pass’ and not ‘put to sleep’ as some children may fear going to sleep after the pet has passed away.

Understanding Grief
There are seven stages of grief that you will feel when the loss of a pet hits home. Understanding these stages will help guide you, and your family, through this time. If at any time you feel like you cannot cope, please talk with a professional or someone who can help get you through this very tough time.

  1. Shock – or disbelief that this is happening.
  2. Denial – you may be in denial that your pet has truly gone. You may even call them when you walk in the door, or you may feel desperate to find another pet. It’s a good idea to hold back on getting a new pet and allow yourself time to work through these emotions.
  3. Bargaining – this can be when you are bargaining with a higher power or with a person about how to prevent this or stop this from occurring. Bargaining can also happen before the death of your pet.
  4. Guilt – some may feel guilty about the loss of the pet. This is a normal emotion and talking about it will help you logically understand why your pet has gone.
  5. Anger – some feel immense anger about the situation or why it has occurred. Remember to breathe and seek clarity.
  6. Depression – this is a very normal and natural form of grieving. Feeling unbearably sad and heavy after a loss is expected. However, if you cannot see a way forward or the feeling is getting worse, please reach out for help.
  7. Acceptance/hope – The light at the end of the tunnel. When you accept your pet’s passing you will find hope and happiness in your cherished memories.
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