Coping with pet loss is not easy, particularly if you’ve spent a long time caring for your pet. Whether it’s due to aging, illness or an accident, it can take time before you get fully healed.
If you are struggling with this, here are some helpful tips to help you out.
1. Allow yourself to grieve
Your pet can be your beloved companion, a friend or a family member. No matter how you viewed your pet, it was still special to you.
There’s nothing wrong with expressing your grief because of your loss. There’s no right way to express it, too.
You can cry until you are done or reach out to someone if you need to. Talk to someone who understands your situation. You can call in sick if you really can’t push yourself to work.
You can ask your vet if he knows any pet loss support group in your area which he can refer you to. Joining one can help you go through the process of grieving better.
2. Do NOT allow people who don’t understand to belittle your feelings
If you have people in your life who are not “pet people”, it is possible that you’ll encounter negative comments from them. As much as possible, stay away from them.
If you still hear them give their unsolicited advice, try to respond without rudeness. Walk away from them and just let it go. You have the right to refuse socializing with this type of people.
Personally, I have found out that some people who don’t understand the importance of pets to others actually think they are being helpful by acting this way. Since you won’t be able to change their minds, it’s best to just avoid them instead of spending a lot of time explaining yourself.
3. Memorialize your pet
Coping with pet loss doesn’t mean that you have to forget all about them. In fact, remembering them can help make things easier for you.
You can go through your pet’s pictures and pick out your favorites. Write down captions and include the dates and locations where they were taken.
Pick out the best pictures and have them made into a portrait or painting. If you can’t choose the best ones, put them together in an album.
Aside from keeping an album, you can also try creating an online account for them. This way, you’ll be able to share your memories of your pet with your friends and family members. If you aren’t comfortable in letting other people see the pictures, you can edit your virtual album’s privacy and only share its access to your close friends.
4. Enjoy the memories of your pet
As you go through its pictures and memorabilia, you can share stories, reminisce and just take your time. If you have children or other grieving family members, it can be very therapeutic to do this as a group activity. It’s a good idea to have each of them share their own fond memories of your pet.
5. Evaluate carefully what you need for closure
If your town offers a pet cemetery, you may want a burial or an actual funeral service. Your vet can arrange cremation and discuss this option with you.
Take note of your financial capability as well as what’s acceptable to your heart. You do not want to soothe grief by overspending.
For some people, coping with pet loss can be as simple as having a box containing their pets’ collars and tags.
6. Recognize that you can still have moments of intense grief after
Coping with pet loss doesn’t end as soon you lay your pet down to rest. In fact, you can still feel the pain even after.
When you come home and there is no wagging tail to greet you at the door, you’ll remember your loss. The same thing can happen when you try to get its food bowl out only to realize that your beloved pet is no longer with you.
These can be hard moments so make sure you’re prepared to deal with them as they come. You can try reaching out to your friends during these tough times.
7. Understand where your guilt and anger are coming from
If you lost your pet due to an accident, you may feel shocked or even be in denial for several days. You can even feel guilty and angry at yourself.
In case you are torn in this situation, it’s a good idea if you can talk to your vet. Reach out to people who can understand your feelings. It can also help if you can reach out to support groups who can educate you on how to prevent such an accident from happening again.
8. Take your time before getting another pet
Be sure you have worked through your grief and emotions before you open your home to a new pet. Make sure that you have completely recovered and that you’re ready to care for another one.
Allowing yourself to grieve and learn can help you become a better person for your new pet.
Although your pets can pass away, it doesn’t mean that they can’t uplift you anymore. Memories never die. Use your pet’s memories as a source of comfort and joy to make coping with pet loss a lot easier.