When it comes time to grieve the loss of a furry friend, saying goodbye to a beloved member of the family is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do as a pet owner.
When the time does come, how do you get back on your feet and carry on without your best friend? Here's what I recommend:
- Face it Head-on - the first way to handle death is often denial, but hiding from reality won’t help you heal from the situation. If you face the facts, you can deal with the situation and you’ll ultimately heal faster. You can’t overcome a problem if you haven’t admitted it exists. We’re rooting for you. You can do this.
- Accept That Some People Won’t Understand Your Loss - It’s always difficult to lose a loved one. One of the first things you can do to begin the healing process is to seek a support group, but be careful in whom you confide. Some people do not view pets as valued members of the family and may not offer the comfort you seek because they just don’t understand. And that’s fine. Just be sure to disclose your loss with someone who can empathize with you. Ideally they can even share with you their own experiences of loss, and how they healed.
- Allow Yourself to Grieve - potentially the most important part of the healing process is allowing yourself to express the feelings you have and then truly mourn. You may feel sad or angry and it’s important to release those feelings, examine them, rebuild yourself and move forward. If you ignore your feelings or bottle them up, the healing process may take years and you’ll continue to feel the way you do now. Take some time to really let everything out. You can write out all of your feelings on paper, or find a support group in which you can confide. Whatever your method, the most important thing is that you be honest with yourself, so you can heal faster and find happiness again.
- Maintain a Routine When dealing with the loss of a loved one - it’s often easier to get back on the track of life if you keep up with your schedule. You do want to make time to mourn, but this doesn’t mean you should sit on your couch eating bonbons for six months. You may need to take a week to do that, but jump right back into the swing of things as quickly as you can. Time heals all wounds and keeping a regular schedule will allow time to work in your favor.
- Consider a Memorial Service - A memorial service can be a great way to both face the facts and grieve. If you have children, they are dealing with the loss just as much as you, and everyone probably wants to have the opportunity to say goodbye. Holding a memorial service is a great way to say your goodbyes to a beloved friend in a special way that can help everyone cope with the loss.
- Create an Album or Slideshow - If you have photos of your pet, creating a photo album or slideshow can be a great way to begin the healing process. If you are making a scrapbook, you can also have each member of the family write a goodbye letter to your pet and include that in the book along with photos and other memorabilia. This is a way to keep the memory of your friend alive long after they’re gone.
Consider Welcoming a New Friend Into Your Life No - one will ever replace your beloved friend and it’s important to know that. Be careful to only welcome a new furry friend into your home when you’re ready, or this may cause you more distress. Some pet owners adopt another pet immediately and are distraught to find out that this new pet is nothing like their former friend. Well, that’s because they aren’t! The new pet you welcome into your home deserves the same love and affection you showed your last pet, so please, do not adopt another pet until you are ready. That said, once you do feel that you are ready to welcome a new pet into your home, this can be a rewarding experience.
Pets offer unparalleled companionship and can help you on those days when you miss your old friend and feel just a little bit lonely. On nights like these, it’s always good to have a big pair of brown eyes staring up at you saying, “What’s wrong, Mommy? Do you want to talk to me about it?” and then you can. Losing a pet is always difficult, but we hope these tips can help make the healing process easier for you and your family.
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