The loss of a loved member of the family is a devastating blow to any household. There are many variables to deal with, as each relationship between owner and pet is different and unique. As pet owners, we tend to outlive our beloved friends, and dealing with their loss is a difficult process. You may be left wondering how to properly cope with your pet’s death and how to properly celebrate their life. There are many different options based on what you feel is right for you and your pet.
First, you need to grieve. Grieving is a healthy and normal response for any loss, especially the death of a loved one. Allow yourself to express sadness in the way you see fit. There is no wrong way to grieve. Some normal feelings you may have have in addition to sadness are denial, anger, depression, and finally acceptance. These are complex emotions and when bottled up will only lead to prolonged distress. Take the time you need to grieve and if possible don’t do it alone. Millions of people have experienced the death of a pet and leaning on others can help ease the process.
The passing of the family pet can have different effects on different people. Children may react differently than adults and that is to be expected. Because this may be a child’s first time dealing with the death of a loved one, there are extra considerations. Expressing your own emotions and showing them that grieving is normal and healthy, you can help them through their own journey. Additionally, by being open and allowing them express how they feel, you can reassure them that as time passes the pain will subside. You can also help them through the grieving process by memorializing your pet in some way. Planting a tree, making a donation to a pet shelter, or remembering them with a special photo or paw print memento can all be ways to help cope with their loss.
Seniors may also have a substantially harder time dealing with the loss of a pet. Their pet may have been their sole companion, if they are living alone. Additionally, the death may remind them of their own mortality and previous experiences with loss. Staying active, volunteering at a shelter, surrounding yourself with friends and family, or calling a pet loss hotline are all ways that can help them cope.
Children and seniors are not the only ones uniquely affected by pet loss. You may have other pets and they will notice their missing friend. They may, also, pick up on your own distress. It’s important to maintain a normal schedule for them, adding in additional play time and affection. Not only will the structure and extra bonding time help them, it will also help you heal as well.
As you deal with your loss, you will also have to consider how to handle your pet’s remains. A memorialization will help provide comfort. Burials, cremations, and headstones are ways of laying your beloved pet to rest. As each owner and pet relationship is unique, it is important to weigh the options of what you feel is right for your pet.
As time continues on, you’ll notice the pain of grief lessening. You may feel relieved to be moving on or sad that time has passed without your pet. These are all normal reactions and should be expected. At this time, you may look back on mementos of your pet, photos, and even fond memories with happiness. You’ll eventually adjust to your new life and the memories you’ve made will be cherished. The loss of a pet is the hardest thing a pet owner can deal with. Give yourself time, seek support, voice your emotions, and make arrangements that feel right for you and your pet.