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Pet Bucket Blog

How to: Cope with the Loss of a Pet

 by jaime on 04 Jul 2014 |
1 Comment(s)
Pets touch our lives and our hearts in ways that some people will never fully understand. The reality is, as pet owners, a dog or cat's lifespan is no match for a humans so we stand to potentially loose a number of pets in the course of our own life. Even so, the loss of any pet is never easy and for many of us feel it is equal to the loss of another human.

Similarly, the grieving process for a pet can be no different to loosing a human loved one. Everyone grieves differently and expresses grief differently - there's simply no right or wrong way to do it. For some people grief will present itself in high and low waves, where time will heal the frequency and intensity of the lows. For others, they'll experience various stages of grief: denial, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance.

How you grieve for your pet will not only depend on who you are as a person emotionally but what sort of bond or impact you had with that pet and perhaps how that death came about. Was it sudden or traumatic? Were they old? Did they have a long-term or debilitating illness? Were they an assistance animal? Did you live only with them? Factors such as these will greatly impact how your grieve and the significance and impact the loss can play on your life. It must be noted however, that you can also experience grief if your pet has run away or become lost.

In any case, you should never be made to feel silly, guilty or ashamed for feeling the loss of your pet or wishing to grieve for that loss. The reality is, some friends, family or co-workers may never fully understand your loss or be able to offer you sympathy. Again, that shouldn't deter you from grieving that way you want to. Because as pet owners, we often don't think of our pets as simply a dog or a cat, but a loved one, compantion, confidant and much valued family member.

Tips for coping with the loss of a pet
    •    Acknowledge the grief you are feeling and don't be afraid to express it.
    •    Don't rush the grieving process - let it happen naturally and let it run its course.
    •    Being open about your feelings of grief should be encouraged.
    •    Ignoring or 'bottling up' your grief is not a healthy way to deal with your feelings.
    •    If it's easier, write down how you are feeling.
    •    If you are not receiving much support from those closet to you, turn to online forums, acquaintances, bereavement hotlines or counsellors to give you the support you need.
    •    Don't let others dictate your feelings. Only you know how you feel and when you feel like you're over the grieving process.
    •    Holding a funeral or memorial service can really help with your healing. Similarly, planting a tree, or creating a photo album are nice ways to remember your pet and is somewhere to channel your feelings. It's also nice to remember happier times.
    •    Continue with your routine: eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, meditate. Not only is it important to keep going with your routine but these methods also help relieve stress and improve your mood - not only yours but your children and other pets if you have them.
    •    Fill the void your pet has left but occupying that time with a hobby or other social activities. It's important to keep in touch with those you are closest too as it can help keep depression away. It can also help you discover new loves and interests.
    •    Don't rush out and buy a new pet to fill the void your departed pet has left. Take the time to go through the grieving process and only consider a new pet when you are truly ready. Remember, your departed pet will never be truly replaced.

If you need help with a child coping with the loss of a pet, look at our previous article on the subject.


Alma - Comment
Alma05 Jul 2014Reply
my Bailey was a huge part of my life. We were best buddies and were together 24/7. He went to the rainbow bridge 6/2/14, and it was the hardest loss I've ever experienced. He was beautiful, loving, smart, playful and most of all, loyal. I miss him so much.

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