Grieving a Pet
Pets are often referred to as our companions. And there’s no term that could better describe the role that they play in our lives than that. As companions, pets have been by your side through many of the ups and downs, highs and lows, trials, adventures, and celebrations of life. Simply put, they’re a part of the family. That’s why The Hungry Puppy understands how difficult it is to accept and grieve the loss of a pet. The healing process may not come easily, but that’s why we, along with professionals, loved ones, and those going through a similar experience, want to be of support.
How To Cope With The Loss of a Pet
While there is no “one size fits all” approach for how to effectively cope with the loss of your pet, there are steps you can take to help come to terms with the situation. In the process, be kind and patient with yourself and understand that the healing process has no timeline. It will be a gradual process that you must allow yourself to go through in order to recover.
Release your emotions.
This step is perhaps the most difficult. Right after the passing of a companion, you may experience a mix of emotions. It might be numbness, sadness, confusion, or denial. Because these are all very understandable and expected emotions, don’t suppress them. Allow yourself to feel them as fully and wholly as you need to. It’s better to accept the situation for what it is and begin taking the steps to heal, and that begins with addressing exactly how you feel and what you can do to emote.
For some, a form of exercise might help to release built up tension and emotion. Whether that’s going for a run or going hardcore in the gym (safely), these prove to be very effective in releasing stress, anxiety, and keeping your mind busy. On the other hand, the exercises of yoga or meditation can help. These give you the time to be mindful of what thoughts and feelings are running through your mind concerning the situation before you learn to silence the thoughts and enter a place of peace. Some may want to try painting, listening to music, writing, etc. No matter the option you choose, engaging in a cathartic activity or finding a way to release your emotions is the first step.
Reach out to others.
Sorting through your feelings can be a lonely and difficult process to do on your own. If this is the case for you, don’t hesitate to get into contact with people. Talk to those that are going through the loss with you, such as friends, family, or a spouse that knew your pet or understood your relationship with them. You can also open up to those that have already gone through the experience, as they can vouch that things get better over time and that no matter how painful it may be, you do in fact heal. A pet loss support group can provide you with these types of people, whether they’ve already experienced it or are still experiencing the grief.
Celebrate their life.
This step can be a tough one if you haven’t allowed yourself to accept your loss, yet. But celebrating your pet’s life after they passed is a very positive, beautiful way to create closure. After all, your pet deserves to be celebrated for the life that they lived and the role they played in yours. Hold a memorial service for them, whether you’d prefer to scatter ashes in their favorite place or bury them at a meaningful location, this gives you and your loved ones a chance to say both goodbye and thank you.
Create a remembrance.
To create a remembrance or legacy for your pet is to find a way to honor them and keep them a part of your life. A simple craft or act of service can help show how grateful you were to have been their pet parent and share life with them. You can choose whichever way you feel best celebrates their unique, individual personality and memories. It can be planting a tree or flowers for them, creating a scrapbook with their photographs, putting together a box of their favorite toys, collar, clothes, etc. These will serve as a way to preserve the memories and keep a lasting reminder of them.
Continue to care for other pets.
Don’t neglect any other pets you have. They still deserve to be treated with the same level of attention and care as they did, if not more. If anything, they’re feeling the absence of their sibling and a shift in the dynamic or mood of the house. It’s very possible that your pet may become lonely, especially if you begin to give them less attention. They may also suffer from depression or separation anxiety from both you and your lost pet. Take note of if they could benefit from extra time spent together or a calming product. Take this time to cherish the pets that you have and use it as a way to bring comfort to the both of you.
Maintain a normal routine.
Just as you should try to maintain a normal routine with your other pets, maintain one for yourself, as well. It’s a lot easier to let yourself sulk, and while it’s good to let out your emotions, it’s best to continue your life and day to day tasks. Continue to practice acts of self care (a little extra now), such as getting out of bed, eating properly, sleeping a healthy amount of time, connecting with those around you, etc.
No one expects you to immediately bounce back after the loss of your beloved pet, but your companion would surely have been happier to see you happy.