Grieving the loss of a pet is painful, just as much as losing a human family member because our pets are a part of our family as well.
There are several things to do to help you through the grief process.
Please continue reading to discover some ways to help you through a tough time.
Losing a Loved One
In more recent years, experts have begun to take note of just how much the loss of a pet truly affects their owners. It is heart-wrenching to lose a pet.
Even though their lives are much shorter than ours, or maybe it is because their lives are so much shorter, their loss makes a huge impact on us as their human Mums and Dads.
For many people, their pets become their children, for various reasons. Perhaps their human family isn’t’ able to have children naturally, or maybe they are older and their children have all grown. For children, their pets become like siblings.
Whatever the case may be for you, suffice it to say that we understand how much you love your pets and it is natural to grieve their loss.
What we want to do here is to help you work through your grief.
What to Do and How to Cope
There are several ways to help you cope with grieving the loss of a pet. We will take a look at several strategies to help you through this process. We all grieve differently.
Many people find comfort in the idea that while we suffer a physical loss of our pets, their memory always remains in our hearts.
Allow Yourself Time to Grieve
It is much too easy to get bogged down with all of the things we think must get done. Think of your time grieving the loss of a pet as a “must” and allow yourself to stop and feel the loss.
Take Time to Purposely and Intentionally Reflect on the Life of Your Pet
Tell stores about your pet. Did your dog, when she was a puppy, run off with your sandwich that was almost as big as she was? Mine did. She dies several years ago and I frequently recall that happy memory.
If you’re not comfortable talking to someone about these memories yet, that’s okay. Take some time to write them down. You could even make a scrapbook with photos and write down memories along with those.
Reflecting on happy memories helps to ease the pain while rooting yourself in positive times.
Take Care of Your Most Basic Needs
Often when we are grieving the loss of a family member, whether human or animal, we tend to forget to take care of ourselves.
It is very important to remember to try to eat and sleep on a normal routine, even when you don’t feel like it.
The process of grieving the loss of a pet is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Your body requires sleep and nutrients from food to take care of itself, which will help you during this process.
Find a Calming Activity
Because the world doesn’t stop for our grief, we have to find ways to cope with the loss of our beloved pet throughout our regularly scheduled activities, like work and other obligations.
It may be something as simple as taking slow, deep breaths for a couple of minutes. Or maybe reading some inspirational lines from a book that means something to you.
Taking a walk and making yourself really listen to the sounds around you. The birds. The rustling of leaves. The babbling of a nearby stream. Doing something with intent and focus helps to relieve the anxiety that grief can cause you.
Take Care of Your Other Pets
If you have other pets that are still living, they are also experiencing loss of their companion. Do you best to stay in their normal routine, it will help both them and you to process the loss.
Create a Type of Memorial
This can be something physical, such as lovely headstone. We made one for our dog with her name engraved on it. And placed a photograph of her in front of it..
It can also be something like spending time at a place that was meaningful for you and your pet, maybe their favourite park. This is a way to say “goodbye.”
Other ways to memorialise your pet could be to create a shadowbox with your pets collar, tag, a photo, possibly a small toy or two.
Planting something in your yard or a pot and scattering a few of your pet’s ashes around the plant is another nice way to keep your pet’s memory alive. You could make a stepping stone or find something decorative to commemorate your pet’s plant.
Don’t Rush the Process of Grieving the Loss of a Pet
Your heart needs time to heal. There is no magic amount of time that it takes. Every person’s grieving time is unique and can be different for each pet.
Feel Free to Look into Support Groups
Don’t be afraid to reach out beyond your friends and family for support. If you don’t feel you are receiving enough support from your friends and family and need to talk to someone further, there are helplines and websites with information you may find helpful.
Beyond Blue has a list of several support sites that may be helpful for you in grieving the loss of a pet.
Pets and People is a site with a lot of information about grieving the loss of a pet. They have several counsellors, a toll-free number you can call, as well as a lot of helpful information you can read in addition to what you find here on our site.
Most Importantly, You Are Not Alone
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with grief is the feeling that you are alone in your grief. But, know that you are not alone.
Your friends and family care about you. Your other animals care about you. Remember this, talking with your loved ones about your pet is one of the most helpful things you to do when grieving the loss of a pet.