It’s not something I want to think about just yet, but our beloved dogs are getting older, and I know that we are going to have to face the loss of a pet sooner or later. And I’m going to have to navigate this emotional event not only for myself, but also with my children who’ve had our dogs as companions since they were very young.
It is not uncommon for people to bond deeply with their pets as they are often considered to be full members of the family these days. If the pet has been a comfort through a difficult life experience, that bond can be significant, which can make a loss of that animal very tough.
Pet Loss Support Groups
Also affecting the process of grieving over losing a pet companion is the fact that others may not understand why you are grieving over “just an animal.” This is why it may be important to find a pet loss support group, where the depth of what you are feeling will be acknowledged and understood by others who are feeling the same thing. These pet loss support groups are often located through your veterinary office and even online. Please don’t try to tell yourself that it’s silly to hurt this much and avoid this resource. You may also find healing in supporting others through this process.
Everyone grieves differently
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some may have waves of sadness, and others may take days, weeks, months, or even years to adjust. For my family, we tend to cope by opening our hearts rather quickly to a new pet. Although this pet doesn’t replace the hole the other left in our hearts, a new puppy or kitten does offer a fresh sense of hope, wonder, and joy. But don’t feel you have to rush this process, either.
There are several options for honoring your pet’s life. Perhaps you could donate to the shelter your pet was adopted from. There are several tasteful ways that a portion of your pet’s ashes can be made into glass jewelry, or even simply spreading them at your pet’s favorite place in the garden might bring you peace. There are several pet urns available as well. Again, just as there is no right or wrong way to grieve, honoring your pet is a personal choice, and you should give your heart and mind the space to acknowledge the space your pet provided in your life.
Visit Helpguide.org for more information.
What are some things you or your family have done to cope with the loss or honor the memory of your pet?