Coping with grief after your dog is gone

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We received this note today from a client, “I’m sending this email to let you know that our sweet Ava passed away over the weekend.
She truly loved coming to Acme – thank you for everything.”

Most of us grieve greatly when this occurs. For some of us, this is a very private thing. And some of us question if it is the right thing to do. It is.

It doesn’t matter if the pet was a mouse or a mastiff – grief is independent of size.

Some animals are lost due to accidents when they are young and in good health while others die after a prolonged illness. Whatever the case, grief and sadness are normal responses to loss.

It is unfortunate that pets live shorter lives than the people who own them.

We are faced with pet loss many times in our lives. In modern society, pets have taken on remarkable rolls. Some substitute for spouses while others substitute for children, siblings and parent.

Our pets’ ability to love unconditionally endear them to our hearts as little else can.

A pet’s presence can lower your blood pressure, change your heart rate and remove feelings of loneliness. They are truly our “best friends”. A single pet can fulfill multiple rolls for different human family members. When a pet dies, bonds and rolls within the family must be rearranged. Often, the trauma of the loss will be unappreciated by your extended family and friends. That is because everyone else’s pet is an animal – except their own.

Mourning or grief occurs in stages that are experienced similarly by people in all walks of life and from a wide variety of cultures.

It is not a strictly predictable process and each of us experiences grief in different ways. Some of us will get stuck in one of the stages for a long period of time or never reach closure. It takes different people differing lengths of time to pass through the stages of grief and they do not necessarily occur in the same order or intensity in different people.

Interested in learning more about pet loss?  Read Spike’s Dog Blog post on the 5 stages of grief and mourning. OR knowing when euthanasia may be right?

Want to learn more about canine behavior and training?  Check out our Woofie Shop
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