For all you animal lovers out there, this article will be so easy to relate to and likely difficult to read, as you most likely have had the privilege to experience the unconditional love given by a pet. Whether it is a dog, cat, hamster or even a special fish, pets can touch our lives in unexplainable ways. They bring complete joy and happiness to their owners and become an important member of our families.
I, like so many, have experienced the loss and sorrow of a pet passing away. It can be a gut wrenching feeling and the emptiness in your heart can last for days, weeks and months. Because of these experiences, we are able to provide you with some tips and helpful hints to make the mourning process a little easier and to always remember to celebrate the life of your furry or not so furry friend.
While you may experience the stages of grief and mourning, as you deal with the passing of your pet, it is normal to have feelings of denial, sadness and even being angry about the situation. Acceptance can be the hardest stage of grief, knowing your pet has moved on and you need to learn to live your life without them in it. Often times, people rush to get another animal in their lives, to fill the void of those gone. Try not to rush. Take your time to remember the best of times and memories with your pet. This will help keep their memory alive and the love in your heart for them.
If you have children in your family, it is important to explain to them what has happened. Providing an explanation will help them cope with their feelings and express them freely. Depending on the age of your child(ren), make sure you give them plenty of comfort and hugs. Encourage your child to talk to you or ask questions. Be open and honest about death and dying. Always keep in mind that each person may deal with death differently, adapting to their needs will help them through their grief.
Not only can humans grieve the loss of a pet, but if you have another pet, they too will feel the loss in their lives. Often times, people have two of one animal and the one that remains is heartbroken. Animals become very attached to each other and may be much needier now that they are lonely. Remember to keep their routine as normal as possible. Just like humans, routine and normalcy help them cope with the loss of a loved one. Express patience and be flexible.
As mentioned previously, it is helpful for the healing process to memorialize your pet. Plant a tree or place a memorial plaque in your garden as a constant reminder of your pet. These can be living tributes that will remain for years to come. Remembering their life and paying tribute can provide comfort and closure for any pet owner. Lean on friends and family for support and help. Don’t be afraid to express your emotions about your loss. It will help you heal and be at peace with the loss of your companion. If you or someone you know is experiencing the loss or anticipating the loss of a pet, please remember to give them an extra big hug. They will appreciate it and will be happy to know they have someone to comfort them in their time of grief.