Tips On How To Cope With The Loss Of A Pet

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There has been a growing number of pet owners in recent times. Studies have shown that, in the US alone, more than 62% of families own at least one pet. While some may love pets due to their cute looks and adorable nature, most pet owners need them for companionship and, in fact, consider them as part of the family. The death of such animals may have profound effects on the affected pet parents.

Just like the death of a loved one, losing a pet can be a traumatizing experience. So how do you deal with the death of your beloved animal friend? This article discusses this and much more.

What Can You Do To Get Over The Loss Of A Pet?

The news of losing a pet is painful and will be taken differently by many people. So, what should you do to ensure the grieving process is less painful and does not cause much interruption to your life? Here are a few steps to help in such a situation:

1. Acknowledge and Accept

The loss of pets has been a major problem that a lot of people go through. For such people, the loss of a pet means the loss of a member of the family and leaves them grieving for some time. The most important thing is to accept the sad reality that grief must happen and cannot be avoided. Accepting this sad reality will enable you to move on with life.

2. Give Yourself Time To Grieve

Grief isn’t fashionable. However, it is normal and necessary. Giving yourself permission and time to grieve is one of the best gifts you can offer yourself. As you navigate through the loss of your animal companion, it’s crucial to remember that you are not alone. Talk about your loss with someone close to you. A powerful relief often occurs once we share our feelings with others.

Dedicate some time to grieve. This could be relaxing for a few minutes and taking the time to cry, remember and feel whatever you want to release at that time. Avoid rushing the process. Healing has no timeline. Make sure to respect your inner healing process. And more importantly, keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to mourn. It is an individual process that is unique for everyone.

Friends with arms around each other

3. Allow Comfort from Your Friends And Family

Members of a family come in handy especially during hard times. When a pet dies, the grief process may be too much to bear for the affected person. The support that these people receive from their families and friends will be of great importance to such people. Friends and family can fill this gap and make the grief experience easier to handle.

4. Get Involved With a Pet Loss Support Community

Apart from receiving support from family and friends, it would also make a great impact to join a support group [1]. Joining a support group will benefit the person as he will interact with other people who have also lost their pets. These people understand themselves better as they share similar problems and feelings towards their pets.

5. Reminisce the Memories of Your Pet While Maintaining a Social Life

Keeping good memories of your pooch will also play a vital role in dealing with grief. The memories kept will help you to remember the pup. The following suggestions would help in memorizing your best friend.

  • Whether you are going to bury your dog or cremate it, it is better to hold a memorial service to commemorate your furry friend.

  • You should also create a legacy for your four-legged friend. There are many ways to do this. This includes naming a place after your pooch and keeping its portrait in your living room.

  • If you’ve photos and videos of your pet when it was still alive, consider keeping them as they serve good memories of the times you had with your animal companion.

  • You can introduce new lifestyle changes to better remember your pooch and how they impacted your lifestyle. For example, you can start celebrating its birthday every year.

Little girl and her pup eyes closed

How Can You Help Children Cope With The Death Of A Pet?

The death of a pet is usually a child’s first encounter with death. For most children, the loss of their pup may be a difficult moment as some of them do not understand death. The loss of a pet will lead to a non-ending blame game; with the child blaming himself or some other person for the death of his pet.

Some parents may be lured to cheat their children that their pup has escaped and would be found. This would not be the best way to deal with the issue as the kid will be heartbroken when he later comes to find out the truth. The best way is to make them understand what has happened and validating their feelings by comforting them.

However, do not try to get a new puppy for kids before they have grieved over the initial loss. A child might see it as disloyalty. Moreover, it could send the wrong message to a child that when a pet dies, we can easily replace it to overcome the grief.

Fortunately, you can help your child go through their grief in several ways. Kids don’t simply overcome grief and loss through words, but you can use arts and crafts to help them cope with the life-altering loss of their beloved pet.

You can also request your child to explain the pictures and what they have learned through them. Nonetheless, there are even more ways to go about it. How about asking your child to write a poem, letter or a story about their feelings? You can also recall all the happy moments shared with the dog or cat.

You should teach your child that grieving and feeling pain after death is normal and acceptable. You should provide opportunities for your child to express their feelings and reassure them that pain and grief, although sometimes messy, and scary, is normal.

Openness and honesty will pave the way to coping and allow you and your young ones to have candid discussions about their feelings. If you’re not open, your child may learn things from other places that could give them confusing ideas about what has transpired, and without good communication, you’ll not have the opportunity to counteract them.

Old man with his schnauzer

How Can You Help Seniors Overcome The Grieving Process After Pet Loss?

Like children, seniors may feel sad and lost when their pet dies. This is because most old adults live alone or with a few loved ones. Pets, therefore, offer unconditional love and companionship to elderly persons.

The death of such animals will leave seniors devastated. It may also bring about memories of other deaths that happened in the past. To make it worse, the death of a pet may leave them thinking about their own death.

If you know an elderly person in this situation, here are some important tips to support them through their mourning period:

  • Be a good listener – Understand that it may be difficult for elderly individuals to talk about the loss of their beloved pet and be available for them when they need you most.

  • Be kind – Although you may not fully understand what position their pet played in their heart, it’s important to sympathize and talk to them kindly.

  • Lend a helping hand – Many older individuals will appreciate assistance with organizing a funeral service for their pet. You can also help with meal planning or house chores during their difficult time.

  • Offer support – There are many pet loss support groups that might be beneficial for your elderly family member to attend. Such groups will give them an opportunity to interact with other seniors who recognize their pain.

Lady in blue hat with her golden retriever

Getting Another Pet After Pet Loss?

What should a pet owner do after losing their dog? A big gap will be left after the loss of a dog. The most obvious reaction would be to acquire a new pet. However, you should not rush into this decision as the personality traits of your new pet may be different from that of the previous pet.

The owner needs to know that a new dog is different from the previous one and will take some time to bring back the feelings they had for the departed dog. Rescuing a pet from an animal shelter can be a good way to determine if you’re ready to become a dog owner again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is losing a pet so hard?

Losing a pet is a hard and difficult moment for the pet owner due to the emotions attached to the animal. For many pet owners, a pet is one of their family members and losing them is as painful as losing a close family member.

How do you honor a deceased pet?

You can honor a deceased pet by holding a memorial ceremony to commemorate it as well as naming people and places after your pet. You can also consider taking pictures of your dog and keeping them in a photo album.

When is the right time to say goodbye?

Natural death is what most of us envision for our beloved pets. They are an integral part of our family, deeply entrenched in our lives, and for most people, opting for euthanasia seems unimaginable.

The bitter reality of bidding farewell to a pet is always difficult. But regardless of how hard it is, there are signs that tell us to let go of our little companion. Here are some signs that should tell you it’s time to say goodbye to them:

  • Terminal illness – This is a condition that can no longer be cured. The cost of euthanizing a pet that is affected by a terminal illness is much lower than keeping him or her alive and spending a lot of money on treatments. Maintaining them alive is simply adding more suffering to the poor animal.

  • Pain – If your pet is in so much pain that even treatment can’t help, it’s time to let him go.

  • Low quality of life – If your pet’s life quality is low, it may be time to bid farewell.

  • Loss of vital body functions – As harsh as it sounds, if your dog has lost vital body functions such as defecating and urinating on his own, then you should consider euthanasia.

  • Breathing difficulties – If your dog is having trouble breathing, you don’t want it to endure such pain. Consider giving it a rest.

Conclusion

This is a sad time. Although we have to find ways to cope with the death of our pets, there are times when we don’t have answers to our difficult questions to make us feel better.

But what would your beloved pet do if they found you gloomy and distressed? The answer is simple – they would give you comfort, and love, and try to stay by your side as long as possible. Thankfully, we can all draw lessons from our four-legged companions.