Pet Loss – How to Cope with Losing Your Pet
Pet loss is devastating. Pets are there for us through thick and thin, and it can be difficult to imagine life without them. When you’ve had to say goodbye to your loving companion, there’s no easy way to move forward and everyone grieves differently.
When you need to say goodbye to your furry friend, talk to your veterinarian to help you decide when the time is right. Your veterinarian can help provide an objective opinion to assess if your pet is suffering and at the end of its life.
Grieving Pet Loss
No one grieves the same way, and there are a variety of ways that people can cope with their loss, whether it is sudden or expected.
- Talk to someone. One of the most successful ways of managing your grief is discussing your feelings with someone. The RSPCA lists several resources that you can communicate with, including groups such as Paws to Listen for cat owners. You may also find it beneficial to talk to a therapist about your feelings.
- Give yourself time to grieve. You should take your time moving through the grief process. Losing a pet is a tragic time, and everyone goes through it at a different pace. This is the time to surround yourself with loved ones, particularly other pet owners who know your furry family member was more than “just a dog” or “just a cat”.
- Explain the loss to children so they understand. Talk to your children openly about the pet loss. Discuss the process with them to eliminate confusion and help them to understand what has happened. It will help them in the long run.
- Express your emotions. For many people, losing a pet can make them feel despair and guilt, feelings beyond just sadness, particularly as they adjust to a new reality without a pet. In addition to discussing your feelings with someone, particularly a professional, keeping a journal can help you come to terms with your loss.
- Honour your pet. A memorial service may help you honour your pet and cope with the loss. You may decide something as simple as few simple words over your pet’s grave may provide a sense of closure. You can also involve your family, especially children, to help them feel a connection to the process.
Remember that there’s no timeline for your grief, but there are a variety of ways you can help further the process.
- Help other pets. While you might not immediately be ready to bring a new pet into your family, you can help better the lives of other pets. Consider volunteering at your local animal shelter or fundraising with a local group that supports animal rescue.
- Memorialize your loved one. Take the time to remember your beloved pet by creating a photo album or commissioning a memorial. Everyone in the family can pick out their favourite pictures to include in the album.
- Take time for self-care. Make sure that you take time for yourself.
- Take up a new hobby or spend time on an old one. Consider healthy activities, such as working out and practising yoga.
Coping with pet loss can be as difficult as dealing with the loss of a close friend or family member. After all, these pets have been in our homes and lives day in and day out. Don’t expect yourself to bounce back immediately. Take time to process your feelings and emotions, and one day, consider bringing another pet into your family to love. And most importantly, know that My Peterinarian is always here for you.