As pet owners, when we bring home a puppy or kitten we are almost never thinking about what will happen when they eventually pass away. After all, the first months and years of their lives are full of joy and fun – it becomes hard to imagine life without them. However, it’s simply a fact of life that, even with the best care, our pets will eventually grow old and leave us, whether due to old age or illness.
The death of a pet can be one of the most difficult losses to cope with. Pets are not just animals, but rather members of the family who offer unconditional love and companionship. When a beloved pet passes away, it can leave a void in our lives. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to cope with the grief that comes with losing a pet.
Table of Contents
Dealing With the Grief of Losing a Pet
Acknowledge Your Feelings
The first step in dealing with grief is acknowledging your feelings. It’s normal to feel pain, sadness, guilt or regret after the loss of a pet. You may also experience anger and confusion over why this happened or what you could have done differently. Allowing yourself to feel these emotions is essential for healing and accepting your loss.
Talk About It
Expressing your emotions in words can help you process them more effectively than bottling them up inside. Talking to someone close to you such as a friend or family member can be helpful as they can provide support and understanding while the pain is still fresh. You may also consider joining an online community or support group where you can share your feelings and receive comfort from others who have gone through similar experiences.
Create a Memory Box
Commemorating your pet’s life is a wonderful way to honour their memory and keep them close even after they’ve passed away. Consider making a memory box filled with items that remind you of them.
Some common tokens of our pets can include:
- Paw prints
- Toys and treats
- Collars or harnesses
- Pet tags
Pretty much anything that brings back fond memories and makes you smile when you see it will do the trick.
Photograph Your Pet
Having photos and videos of your beloved pet is a great way to remember and enjoy them once they’re gone, but don’t leave it until the end.
You’ll hear many professional pet photographers suggest that pet owners should photograph their animal at 2 or 3 different stages of their lives to capture the personality and physical appearance at each stage.
For example, a photoshoot when they are a puppy or kitten to capture their young and playful years, something around middle age when they are in their prime and then a final photoshoot when they are a little older.
This final session should be before they are starting to slow up or are in decline, as that can be a sad time and not an accurate reflection of how they were in the majority of their life.
Make Time to Remember
Carve out some time once in a while to remember all the good times spent with your pet and reminisce about all the happy memories you shared together – no matter how small they may seem. You never know what will trigger these happy memories, so it’s good to focus on them while they are fresh in your mind.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself during this period of grief is essential for healing properly and maintaining balance in your life. It may be tempting to forget about normal day-to-day life for a while, but it’s still important to be kind to yourself by getting enough sleep, eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly and engaging in activities that lift your mood and bring joy back into your life.
Seek Comfort From Nature
Spend some time outdoors where you can find peace and solace amid the beauty of nature. Whether it’s walking along trails near your home or simply sitting on your porch enjoying the sounds around you, nature has its own way of helping us cope with pain and heartache. Plus, you may be able to relive old memories of going out for walks with your pet and find some comfort that way.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
Some people may take days to get over losing a pet, while others may take weeks. Everyone grieves differently so don’t put pressure on yourself if you don’t feel fully ready to return to normal life just yet. Give yourself permission to take some time and don’t rush the healing process.
Look Toward the Future
While it may seem impossible now, focus on looking toward the future and all its possibilities. Pet owners who lose their pets often think that they’ll never be able to replace their beloved pet. While this may be true, there is always the possibility of finding a new pet that will fill your heart and home with love and affection. There are still thousands of shelter and rescue pets waiting for their fur-ever home, if you can give them a chance.
Dealing with the grief of losing a pet is never easy, but the pain never lasts forever. Seeking professional help if needed (such as seeing a therapist) can also make coping much easier. Eventually joy will come again, whether you get yourself a new puppy or kitten or just choose to honour your pet’s memory in some other way.