Only someone who has lost a pet they loved so much can understand how emotionally draining and devastating it can be. Our pets are not merely an animal that we own, but a part of our family who we care about and who cares about us. For some, their pet could be like their sibling, while for others it could be like a child.
So when they leave our side, we lose someone very dear to us and close to our heart. The grief of losing a pet is real and surprising, and no matter how much you try to persuade yourself that you have only lost a pet, it is almost impossible to shake off the pain and suffering.
If you have recently lost a pet and are overwhelmed by the uncontrollable emotions that have taken you over, then you are not alone in your grief. Your friends and family or other people in your life may not exactly understand how you feel but we are here to help you through the process. Here are some tips that will help you get through the death of a pet.
#1. Prepare In Advance
Preparing for the death of a pet dog or a cat may not be as easy as it sounds but it can help you and your family deal with the loss in the long run. If your pet is old or sick, then it would be a better choice to start preparing for the demise soon. You can start by spending quality time with your pet and make the most of the moments that you two can spend together. Going out for a walk, having your favorite meals or just lying on the couch, hanging out together, are some good options.
To be honest, you can never truly prepare for the death of a loved one, including your pet. You can try to prepare for the grief but you will never fully understand the role that it played in your life until it’s gone. However, learning about the various stages of grief can help you be aware of what you will feel. Talk to your family members about what is going to happen and how you may deal with it.
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#2. Understand That It’s Normal
The next thing you have to do to cope with the circumstances is understand that what you are feeling is completely normal. There could be times when you may think that your emotions make no sense and you shouldn’t be feeling the way you do since you have ‘only’ lost a pet, but it’s real. Some people go into denial as a defense against the harsh situation. But when denial is deliberately used to avoid the reality and escape the truth of loss, it can lead to a number of health issues and manifest insomnia, anxiety, fatigue as well as chronic depression.
The people around may not understand what you are going through. They may offer a few considerate words for a day or two but then they expect you to get over it within a few days and resume your life like nothing happened. What they fail to understand is the grief of the death of a pet refuses to be boxed away. Admit and embrace your emotions and take a break to mourn the loss.
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#3. Hold A Ceremony
You just lost a part of your family and a funeral can help you come to terms with it. Therefore, if your pet has just died or is nearing its death, then do consider arranging a funeral, not to mourn the loss, but perhaps to celebrate the amazing moments you spent together. You can check if burying the pet in the backyard is an option. Get in touch with the local courthouse and delve into the legality of it. This way, you can access your pet’s grave easily, which will help with the coping process. Invite the people close to you to attend the funeral and pay their respects. Decorate the funeral with the images of your pet and have a viewing area where people can see photos and other mementos. Toys and collars are some good options.
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#4. Talk About It
Perhaps the best way to get over a pet’s death is by talking about it. Sit with your family members to converse about how you feel after the loss or get in touch with your close friends to ask them for a helping hand. There is no shame in admitting that you are vulnerable at the moment and you will be surprised to see how effective just talking about it is. What most of us do after a loved one leaves us is we bottle up our emotions. These feelings start to eat us up from the inside and affect, not just our psyche, but our physical health as well. People go to shrinks after the loss of someone they loved; a pet’s death is not too different from that. But instead of a psychiatrist, you can make an appointment with your friends and talk about how you feel.
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#5. Laugh At Yourself
This may sound absurd to you, but believe it or not, laughing helps in dealing with grief. The passing over of your furry friend may leave you in tears but try to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Laugh at the hundreds of dollars you spent at the veterinarian’s office when your pet cat or hamster got sick, giggle at the fact that now you have a dead animal buried in your backyard or spare a few chuckles that you organized a funeral for an animal that you found roaming on the streets. The words may sound a little offensive but these can help you in the grieving process. Nothing can change the fact that your relationship with your pet was real; we are only asking you to lighten things up a little.
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#6. Create A Memory Book
A scrap book decorated with the photographs of your pet and the amazing moments you two spent together can be a great way to help yourself in the dealing process. Since grief in children surfaces later, a memory book can help them remember the funny and happy moments they spent with the pet. Furthermore, you can also encourage them to make drawings of their own and make additions to the book, however, they see fit. This memory book can also have small memorabilia like the collar that your dog used to wear or the toy it played with all the time; just something to remember your pet by and cherish the gone moments.
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#7. Do Not Let The Guilt Pull You Back In
It is also important to understand that every single one of us mourns in our own way. While some quickly learn how to live with the loss, others take time to get over it; there is no timetable for dealing with the demise. Do not feel guilty if you feel yourself getting back to your life soon after the death of your pet. Nobody is denying the fact that you loved that furry creature as your own blood. You may be getting over the loss, so do not let your guilt pull you back towards those bad feelings. Your pet will always be in your memories, but you can’t live your life thinking about it all the time.
Well, if every attempt to get over the death of your pet has failed and the emotions of sadness keep hovering over your head, then perhaps you should consider a pet loss support or group where you can meet other people suffering from the same thing as you. Making an appointment with a doctor is also not a bad idea if you feel the loss affecting your psyche. Also, if somebody you love has lost a dear pet, then make sure that you are there for them as they might be vulnerable at the moment. Sympathy cards may be a good gesture but what matters the most is being there for them.
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These are some things that we think can help you deal with the loss. Now, it is time you share your thoughts with us. Have you ever had your loved pet die? How much did it affect you? How did you get over it? Is there some way, other than the above-mentioned ones that you would want to suggest to people suffering from heartache after a pet’s death? Tell us through your comments below. We would love for you to write to us.
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