Coping with the loss of a pet is one of the most difficult experiences you can ever live through. Losing your pet is like losing a family member. Most people will pass through the same grieving process that includes anger, denial, guilt and pointing blame. All these emotions are natural and are essential steps towards healing. Once the initial shock has passed and you have had time to grieve, you can begin taking steps to move on with your life. This involves keeping your pet’s memory alive and never forgetting how much of an impact they had on your life while they were here. Check out the list of 10 tips on how to cope with the loss of your pet. Hopefully, they will help you.
1. Give Yourself Time to Grieve
Don’t pay attention to those who are unable to understand your loss and make comments such as “It’s only a pet.” Everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs, so simply stand up and leave the room if they persist in ridiculing your situation. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to you directly after your loss. Remind yourself that this stage will always be the hardest.
2. Find a Way to Say Goodbye
Pet cremations are becoming increasingly popular ways to lay your pet to rest. There are many companies that will handle all the details for you and have years of experience with grieving owners. If you have a garden, then you can choose to bury your pet in your backyard. You can even plant a tree over them as a memorial. If your pet was lost or you do not have their body, bury some of their favourite items such as a toy, pillow or old collar. The simple act of placing something in the ground will help to bring closure.
3. Do Something to Honour Their Memory
Find a silver lining by looking for a way to do something good in honour of your pet. If your pet passed away from illness or old age, donate money to a charity that takes care of sick or elderly dogs. You could even volunteer your time to help out in a charity shop or bazaar that raises money for animals.
4. Seek Help if You Cannot Cope
If you cannot cope with the loss, then take immediate action to seek professional help. Many people find speaking with a therapist or counsellor to be a great comfort. There are many alternative therapies that you can try that will help to rebalance your emotions. Yoga, massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture and meditation can help with depression and will allow you to regain emotional control. Medication should only ever be used as a last resort when coping with depression.
5. Build a Support Network
Your friends and family can provide strong support during periods of extreme pain. Even if they do not fully understand your emotions, it doesn’t matter as long as they accept them. Getting back into the routine of family life will provide a distraction from your sadness even if it is only for a short time.
6. Speak to Others Who Have Experienced Your Pain
Visit Internet forums to speak with others or read testimonials from other pet owners who are going through the same experience as you. Just knowing that you are not alone in your feelings will provide some comfort. There may even be a support group advertised on the noticeboard of your local pet store or veterinary clinic. Avoid spiritual healers or psychics who claim they can contact your pet for you. These people are often con-artists who prey on the vulnerable.
7. Start the Healing Process
Once the initial sadness has begun to pass, it is time to start the long road to healing. Spend time with other dogs and cats. You may even feel strong enough to start thinking about a new pet. However, it is not advisable to actually bring a new animal into your home until you are fully ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a new life.
8. Give Something Back
As you begin to feel more hopeful, remember the people that helped you during your darkest period. Seek out ways to help others who are going through the first initial stages of loss. You can use your experience to help them through their own grieving process. If any organizations helped you such as counselling services or support groups enquire about becoming a counsellor yourself even if only for a short time.
9. Move Forward
Moving forward does not mean forgetting. It involves coming to a peaceful acceptance of the cycle of life and death. Your pet had a good life with you and enjoyed his or her time while on this planet. Understanding that death is an inevitable part of our existence is the most effective way to release feelings of sadness and anger regarding the loss of your beloved animal.
10. Keep Their Memory Alive
Consider cutting a small piece of your animal’s fur and storing it safely in a box or plastic bag. You may find it too painful to look at in the first stages, but you may like to have it as a keepsake in the future. Prepare a beautiful memorial item for your pet such as a framed photo. You could even decorate a stone with messages to them and lay it next to their grave.
Although you will never forget your pet, doing small things to remember them once in a while is a wonderful way to keep them close to you. Visit their favourite park or outdoor area, look through photographs or maybe even watch home videos of them from time to time. When the time is right, you can begin to search for a new pet that will provide you with plenty of brand new experiences and happy memories.