It is natural to feel sadness, exhibit grief, and expect friends and family to offer compassion and comfort when someone you care about passes away.
When a pet dies, however, you do not always get the same level of understanding. Some people still do not comprehend how important animals can be in people’s lives, and others may not understand why you are upset about “just a dog.” Those who have never experienced the unconditional love of an animal often do not understand just how difficult the loss of a dog can be.
Your pets feel like members of the family.
We understand how important pets are to the majority of people. People adore their dogs and consider them to be family members. Pet owners frequently celebrate the birthdays of their animals, confide in them, and carry photos of them in their purses. When a cherished pet passes away, it is natural to feel overwhelmed by the depth of your grief.
Companionship, acceptance, moral support, and unadulterated affection are all things that animals bring. You have already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss by understanding and accepting this bond between humans and animals: knowing that it is appropriate to grieve when your pet dies.
Following the grief process
The grieving process is as unique as the individual, spanning days for some and years for others. Denial is usually the first step in the grief process, as it protects people until they realize what they have lost.
Some pet owners may attempt to bring back their beloved pet’s life by bargaining with a higher force, oneself, or even their pet, as irrational as that may seem. Some people experience rage, focusing on everyone who connects to the pet, including family, friends, and vets. They may also feel guilty about what they did or did not do, and they may believe that their distress is unreasonable.
Guardians may experience profound sadness or loss after these feelings have passed. They may withdraw or feel despondent. When they accept the reality of their loss and recall their animal buddy with less sadness, they have reached acceptance.
Managing the grief
While sorrow is a deeply personal process, you do not have to go through it alone. Pet-bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, local or online pet-bereavement groups, books, movies, and magazine articles are just a few of the resources available.
Some of the things that you can do include:
- Allowing yourself to acknowledge and experience your grief
- Reaching out to people who may be able to lend an understanding shoulder to cry on, whether this is in real life or online
- Express your feelings in art, writing, or music
- Organize a memorial for your pet
- Look at ash urns for pets for displaying in your home
Helping children with managing their grief
A child’s first encounter with death is often the loss of a pet. To save the pet, the child may blame themselves, their parents, or the veterinarian. They may also feel guilty, depressed, and fearful that individuals they love and care about will be taken from them.
Lots of adults try to protect the feelings of their children by saying the pet ran away. While the instinct to protect children from the grief of losing a pet to death is natural, doing this can cause your child to hope that the pet will return, and if – when – they discover the truth, they feel betrayed and lied to. Expressing your own grief in front of your children will show them that it is ok and natural to feel sad and show them healthy ways to manage their feelings.
Older people and the loss of a pet
Older people may find it especially difficult to cope with the loss of a pet. Those who live alone may have a sense of purposelessness and emptiness. The death of a pet can bring up terrible memories of previous losses and remind the pet owner of their own mortality.
Furthermore, the chance that the pet would outlive the caregiver complicates the decision to have another pet. The decision to get another pet is contingent on the person’s physical and financial abilities to care for a new pet.
For all of these reasons, older pet owners should take urgent action to cope with their loss and reclaim their sense of purpose.
Try engaging with friends and family, calling a pet-loss support hotline, or volunteering at a local humane society if you are an older person who has recently lost a pet.
Other pets and their reactions
Living pets may whine, reject their food, or become sluggish, particularly if they had a deep attachment with the lost pet. Even if they were not the best of buddies, the upheaval and change of circumstances, as well as picking up on your own sense of sadness, can be upsetting for them as well. Give the pets that remain plenty of tender loving care and attention, and try to keep to their normal routine. This will not only help them to get some sense of normality but you as well.
It can be tempting to rush out and get another pet straight away to fill the gaping hole that your deceased animal has left in your life, but before you do this, wait a moment. It is not fair to you or your new pet to make a hasty decision. Each animal has its own distinct personality, and a new animal will not replace the one you have lost. After giving yourself time to grieve, thinking whether you are ready, and paying close attention to your feelings, you will know when the time is perfect for picking up a new pet.
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