It is natural to feel sorrow and express grief when a loved one dies. When a pet dies, you may not always receive the same level of sympathy or understanding from friends and family. Some people still don't understand how important animals can be in people's lives, and they may not understand why you're sad. Today, our Rabun County vets share some ways you can cope with the loss of a pet.
When a beloved pet dies, it's common to feel overwhelmed by the depth of your grief. Caregivers frequently celebrate the birthdays of their pets, confide in them, and carry pictures of them in their wallets. People adore their pets and consider them to be family members. We understand how important pets are to the majority of people.
The first step toward coping with pet loss is understanding that it is acceptable to grieve when your pet dies. Companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love are all provided by animals. If you understand and accept the human-animal bond, you've already taken an important step toward coping with the loss of a pet.
The Grief Process
Grief is as unique as the individual, lasting days for one person and years for another. Typically, the process begins with denial, which protects until individuals can recognize their loss.
Some caregivers may attempt to restore life by bargaining with a higher power, themselves, or even their pet. Some people experience anger, which they may direct toward anyone involved with the pet, including family, friends, and veterinarians. Caregivers may also feel guilty about what they did or did not do; they may believe that being upset is inappropriate.
After these feelings subside, caregivers may experience true sadness or grief. Acceptance occurs when they take in the reality of their loss and remember their animal companion with decreasing sadness.
Coping With Grief
Counseling services, animal-bereavement groups, books, videos, and articles are just some of the resources available.
Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:
- Recognize your grief and allow yourself to express it
- Don't be afraid to reach out to others who can offer support. If you do some online research, you will find hundreds of resources and support groups that may be of assistance to you
- Write about your emotions in a journal, a poem, an essay, or a short story
- Check with your veterinarian or the local humane society to see if they have a pet-loss support group or hotline, or if they can refer you to one
Finding a way to remember your lost pet is an important part of the healing process. Memorializing your pet can help you find closure while also serving as a sweet reminder of all the good times.
Did your pet have a favorite toy? A unique collar or a favorite place to curl up? Consider these details and take the time to make a small memorial for them.
Children and Grief
While it may seem most compassionate to lie to your children about your pet's death, consider it an opportunity to teach them an important lesson about mortality and the grieving process.
Pet loss can demonstrate to your children what your family does when something sad occurs, as well as that grief and loss are natural parts of life. They are allowed and encouraged to grieve, but it is also acceptable for them to eventually move on and feel happy again.
Seniors and Grief
Coping with the loss of a pet can be especially difficult for seniors. The death of a pet can bring back painful memories of other losses and remind caregivers of their mortality. The possibility that the pet will outlive the caregiver can also complicate the decision to get another pet.
For all of these reasons, senior pet owners must take immediate action to cope with their loss and regain a sense of purpose. They can try talking to friends and family, calling a pet-loss helpline, or even volunteering at a local humane society.
Other Pets and Grief
Surviving pets may whimper, refuse to eat or drink, and become lethargic, particularly if they had a close bond with the deceased pet. If your remaining pets continue to act strangely, there could be a medical issue that necessitates the attention of your veterinarian.
Give surviving pets lots of attention and try to keep a normal routine. It's beneficial to both of you.
Getting Another Pet
After giving yourself time to grieve, considering whether you're ready, and paying close attention to your feelings, you'll know when the time is right to adopt a new pet. It's not fair to you or your new pet to rush into this decision. Each animal has a distinct personality, and a new animal cannot replace the one you have lost.
When the time comes, keep in mind that your local animal shelter or rescue is an excellent place to look for your next special friend.