Dealing with the loss of a pet is be difficult. Our pets are often our daily companions, but what do you do when they’re not with you anymore? Here’s how to cope when you’ve lost a pet:
Members of the Family
For many people, their pet is considered part of their family. Their pet isn’t just a cat or dog they live with. Pets are there for them day in and day out. Pets help make them feel better when they’ve had a hard day. Their pet might even give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
This is why the loss of a pet can be so painful. Once your pet is gone, there is an empty spot that is left in your life. This hole can be even greater if your pet was a service, therapy, or working animal.
How to Cope When You’ve Lost a Pet
Coping with the loss of a pet is similar to coping with the loss of a loved one in your life. Allowing yourself to grieve their loss is an important step in coping once they’re gone.
Acknowledge the Loss
Grieving looks unique for everyone. Some people may not be seemingly unphased at all by it, while others will be apparently upset. One approach isn’t better than others. Each person just has their own way of dealing with loss.
What is important to remember is that you must allow yourself to grieve. After losing a pet, you have to take the time to acknowledge your loss. Grieving is a process that takes time, and there is no way to hurry through the loss of a loved one. Allowing yourself the time to grieve is the only way to get through the process.
Talk to Others
Talking about your loss with others can be a helpful way of coming to terms with your pet’s death. Try to find a sympathetic ear to listen to you. Someone who has lost a pet before can be insightful. The most important part of talking with others is finding a person who won’t judge you.
Some people just can’t understand how important a pet is to its owner. These people are not wrong. They likely have never experienced the joy of pet ownership. But even a friend who has never had a pet can be a good listener. If you don’t have another person in your life to discuss your loss with, there are also support groups you may be able to find in your area to help you through this challenging time.
Keep Your Daily Schedule
Not only is losing a pet difficult to deal with, but it can throw your daily schedule off as well. If you’ve been used to waking up early to take the dog out for a run, you might not have a reason to get up early anymore.
If there are other people or pets in your home, this can throw their schedules off as well. To the best of your ability, you should try to maintain the schedule you had before your pet passed away. The routine of your normal day can help get you and those around you out of the slump caused by your loss.
Create A Memorial
One of the worst parts of losing a pet is that they leave an empty space in your life. While you will never get them back, you should consider creating some kind of memorial or having some kind of service for them.
Some sort of memorial can be a way of saying goodbye to your loved pet. It can also be a good way to remember them while they are no longer with you.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you grieve:
- Grieving is a slow process.
- Feeling sad or lonely are completely normal feelings when you lose a pet or someone close to you.
- Trying to ignore the way you feel may make things worse in the long run.
- If you are having a hard time getting through your day, there should be no shame in seeking professional help.
Helping Children Grieve
If your household has lost a pet, it might not only be you that is grieving. If you have children, this may be their first experience with death. Losing their pet will be painful, but it’s the right time to talk about death with them.
A child may not fully understand what has happened to their pet. They may also blame you or even the vet for not saving their pet. You may be tempted to tell your child that the dog or cat “ran away.” You might be trying to spare their feelings, but your child might be waiting for their pet to return as well. This can lead to them being hurt even more when their pet never comes back home.
The best thing you can do is be truthful with your child. Tell them how the loss of your pet has affected you. Have a conversation about how you both feel about the loss of your pet and answer any questions that your child might have about what happened to their pet.
Losing a pet is painful, but leaning on your loved ones will help you through it. At the same time, this natural progression of life is a teachable moment for children.