Diploma in Pet Bereavement
The Blackford Centre
Coping with Pet loss
Coping with a loss
of a pet
It is natural to feel devastated and broken after the loss of a pet. Companion animals come very close to humans and share an intensity with them that can be stronger than our bonds with humans. Dogs and cats give us unconditional love, and we come to recognize their distinctive individual characteristics. And seeing them decline is painful and we feel powerless.
Grieving is normal when you lose your pet. And as in the case of a human death, we need time – lots of time – while depression and sadness settle on us.
We all grieve differently. Sometimes the grief comes in stages. You may go into denial initially, experience intense rage, and then feel hurt.
The intensity of the grief is initially high, but with time it lessens and loses its severity, although it never leaves us.
There are some important tips to follow while grieving and coping with the loss of a pet.
- Express your grief: Grief gets expressed in many ways. The best way is to talk it out with family members or friends who understand what you are going through and can relate to your sadness. Having a conversation and talking about fond memories of your pet can lessen your sorrow.
- Allow yourself to feel sorrow: The best thing pet owners, who are devastated by a loss, can do is to allow themselves to feel sadness and sorrow in all of its stages. This gives you the natural amount of time to heal and process the pain.
- Bear others’ insensitive remarks. When your animal dies, you may be subjected to insensitive remarks like “It was only a pet”. People may tell you to move on with your life. People say this because they lack insight, and are not familiar with death. They think they are being helpful. They cannot put themselves in your place.
- Rituals: People have different rituals to help them deal with the loss of their pet. Holding a memorial service, planting a tree, or having a quiet remembrance ceremony for your pet can be an important ritual and can be practised to overcome loss.
- Reach out to those who have suffered a similar loss: Reaching out to other people through pet forums can help ease your pain. There are many pet forums worldwide that provide a platform for you to voice your feelings and express your sadness to others who have felt the same. Sharing experiences can be important as it lets you realize that you aren’t alone in your loss and that others have gone through it as well at some point in their lives.
- Stay close to your family. As people age, dealing with loss becomes harder. It is important to stay connected with friends and family members. They can support you and guide you through the loss of a pet. But bear in mind that families are often blunt and even brutal to each other, and are less able to hold their tongue. Seek out family members you can trust.
- Seek professional help: As someone who is deeply attached to your animal you may feel overwhelmed by grief. This is often the case if you have relied upon your pet for support or comfort. The loss of a pet will not only make you lonely, it will make you realize that the support is no longer there. Talking to a professional therapist who deals with pet loss is an effective way to overcome grief.
- Create a legacy: Planting a tree or creating a photo album containing your pet’s pictures is a good ideal way of keeping fond memories alive. You can also choose to help other pets in a shelter to honour the memory of their beloved pet.
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