How to deal with the loss of a pet

by Kira Garrett | January 24, 2014

Pets play such an integral role in our lives. They greet us in the morning with kisses, they welcome us home with wagging tails, and bring a smile to our faces on the days when nothing else seems to do the trick. Pets are a part of our families and when we lose a pet, it can be difficult to deal with that loss. It is not unusual to feel a deep sense of grief when a pet dies. After forming such a strong bond, severing that tie can be painful. But as with any loss, you may find that life carries on and time heals.

Because cats and dogs generally have a much shorter lifespan than their human family members, it is inevitable that your family will have to deal with the loss of a pet at some point in time. Whether it’s from old age, disease, or an unexpected tragedy, it doesn’t make the experience any easier. But when the time comes, take the time to mourn. Each person deals with loss in a different way.

There is no right or wrong way to deal will loss, but here are a few tips to help you get by in a trying time:

·       Talk with family members about the loss. It is important share emotions and talk through feelings – especially of there are children in the family. Many times, the loss of a pet is the first time a child experiences death. It can be confusing and frightening, but sharing thoughts will help all family members cope.

·       Other pets may also grieve when they lose a companion. Animals can also sink into depression after a loss. This is often marked by refusal to eat or drink, lethargy, or excessive whimpering.

·       Prepare a memorial for your pet. Whether you gather with people to share stories, or prefer to have just a silent, internal moment to say goodbye to your pet, light a candle and remember that this is an important part of the grieving process. Having a time to say your goodbyes and express your gratitude for the time spent with your pet will help to bring closure and accept the loss.

·       If you are having a difficult time dealing with the loss of a pet, you may benefit from a pet loss support group or counseling. Find a support group near you.

Take as much time as you need to recover from your loss. Our pets are our family members, our confidants and our emotional support. As you move through the stages of grief, you will be able to look back at the happy memories you shared with your pet and you might just feel inspired to make room for  another pet who deserves a life with a loving family that will care for him to the very end.