The death of an animal companion can bring out feelings we don’t expect to feel. Grief is a normal response to the loss of someone or something we’ve loved. We should let ourselves feel our grief. It is a sign of the deep connection we have with our pets and the love they gave us.
If you are grieving the loss or sudden death of your pet, here are some things to remember:
It is OK to grieve.
Do not try to avoid your feelings about this loss. Feeling your emotions is how you cope with the loss and begin to heal. You may cry, be angry or feel numb for a while. These are normal reactions when someone important dies. Grief can also make you feel empty, so reach out and talk to others who will understand, like friends and family members.
You are not alone in your grief.
Many of us feel that we cannot talk about the death of a pet for fear others will criticize or find it hard to understand. Most people consider pets part of their families. That’s why others will not judge how you feel. Talk openly with your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors about your pet’s passing. They want to know how you are dealing with it and may have an experience they can share with you. Don’t be afraid to tell them how much your pet meant to you and what you miss most about them so they can help support you during this time.
Tips for Coping With a Pet’s Death
Talk or make something out of your memories with your pet.
Memories are very important to help you heal from any loss. Talk to people who know your pet well, like the veterinarian or your family and friends. Tell them what you liked best about your pet and the happy moments you shared together. You may want to write down some of these memories in a journal or make a scrapbook about your pet’s life. Another way to honor your pets is by helping local animal charities, such as local shelters and animal rescue groups.
Be patient with yourself while healing from this loss.
It may take months or even years to work through your grief. Grief counselors say that grieving is a process, and we never really ‘get over it. We just learn to live with it in our lives. It helps if you can view it as part of the natural life cycle and be grateful for all the time you had together. You will find your way to remember, honor, and celebrate their life but do not feel rushed or pressured to do so right away. The healing process will come at its own pace.
It is important to take care of yourself during this time – it is not selfish!
Do your best to eat healthier meals at regular times to cope with grief. When a pet dies, we tend to stop eating as well or imbibe more calories than usual in an effort to comfort ourselves. This can lead to excessive weight gain and exhaustion, which adds to feelings of depression over time.
Also, regular exercise has many benefits. It can lower stress levels, improve sleep patterns, and relieve depression symptoms, such as crying jags, irritability, and anxiety. Walking, jogging, and swimming are all great ways to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
Remember the good times.
Grief always has a brighter side if we look for it. Did you enjoy spending time with your pet, just relaxing at home, or going on long walks? Use these memories as starting points to help you get back into finding new activities that make you feel good and distract you from thinking about how lonely life is without your pet.
Remember that there is no best way to grieve. Everyone deals with things differently and at their own pace. Be patient with yourself as you move through this difficult time. It takes time for our bodies and minds to heal after losing someone we love dearly. Mourning the loss of a pet can be one of the most heart-wrenching experiences we face, but our hearts will mend with time, and accepting that is part of life.