How to Cope With Pet Loss
It's never easy to deal with the death of a beloved fur baby. Whether is was a planned procedure to end the suffering humanly or an unexpected situation that leaves one feeling a whole host of emotions, coping with the loss can be difficult.
However, there are ways to help ease the pain you are experiencing. Read on for some valuable tips on how to cope with pet loss.
Know the Grief Process IS Normal
Therapists have told us there are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are the same whether you are mourning the loss of a person or a pet.
The rate in which you go through these stages, however, may vary greatly from person to person, plus you may even go back-and-forth between the various emotions at times. Just know that this IS a normal reaction to this troubling time.
Don't Let People Make You Feel "Stupid"
People who don't understand the strong bond between pet parent and fur baby may never know the devastation you are experiencing. Some, unfortunately, may even try to "help" you by making insensitive remarks like;
He was ONLY a pet…
Just get another one…
Don't take these remarks personally and certainly don't let them make you feel stupid by having loved an animal so much.
Helping the Grief Process
There is no reason to experience the grief alone. Pet grief hotlines, support groups for pet parents, caring family/friends, books, videos and articles (like this one) can all make the grieving process a bit easier, so don't be afraid to reach out to those who "get it."
In fact, why not leave a picture and/or a comment about your pet's life? We'd love to hear about your BFF (best furry friend)! 🙂
In addition to those helpful avenues, the following suggestions may also work for you:
Writing down your feelings can be very therapeutic for the healing process, plus you can make it as personal and in-depth as you want to.
- Prepare a Memorial
Giving your pal a proper burial or placing the ashes in a special pet urn can help you gain closure on the situation.
- Volunteer at a Rescue
Sometimes helping homeless pets can be very rewarding. Yes, your beloved baby is gone, but giving back to those in need can brighten your mood.
Helping Children Know How to Cope With Pet Loss
Children will go through a similar grieving process; however with their young brains they may aim there blame at parents (family), themselves, or the veterinarian for not saving their best companion's life.
Psychologists do not recommend telling the child the pet "ran away." This builds false hope for them and when they learn the truth, it often times creates a feeling of betrayal. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to death. If you need further advice on softening the blow there are age-specific books that may be helpful.
Another method that may be helpful is not being afraid to express your own grief when around your children. Kids need to know that sadness is a part of life and dealing with it in a healthy manner is good.
How to Cope With Pet Loss As a Senior
Losing a pet when you are advanced in years can be especially difficult. Some seniors live alone and rely upon their pets as constant companions. Pets can also bring purpose to a lonely life and may even bring up reminders of their own mortality when the pet passes.
In addition, it may not be easy for an elderly person to get another pet. Some fear they won't outlive the animal, or financial and housing issues may prevent the addition of a new furry friend.
For these important reasons, seniors should make every effort to deal with their loss quickly. This includes reaching out to friends and family for support or calling a pet support hotline. In addition, the senior may find it helpful to volunteer at a pet organization or offer to pet sit for those pet parents that are in need.
Pet Loss and Other Pets
Surviving pets can also go through a grieving process, but it will manifest itself in different ways. They could refuse to eat and drink and/or become lethargic and depressed. Even if the animals were not close companions, they can still become stressed from the change. Some animals are also very intuitive and can pick up on your emotional state.
You can help decrease your pet's agony by spending more time with him/her and sticking to a normal routine.
When to Get Another Pet
It's never a good idea to rush into getting another pet when you are still in the grieving process. Know that you can never replace the deceased animal. All pets have their own unique quirks and traits, which may not be anywhere near your other animal's beloved personality.
The good news is, you will most likely know when you're ready to embark on the joy of pet parenting once again. Pay close attention to your feelings and don't ever refuse to allow another companion into your life. The hurt will pass and there are so many animals in need a loving and caring home.
Learning how to cope with pet loss is a real challenge, especially for children and seniors, but it's important to know that you can grieve and grieving is quite okay. If you need somewhere to vent or you have stories you want to share about your pet, leave them in the comments - we're happy to listen! 🙂
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