how to cope with the loss of a pet
DESCRIPTIONWhen you lose a pet, you lose a piece of your heart. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. They loved you unconditionally, were a constant companion and a member of the family. Many adults treat their pets like children (even if they have children) and for kids, they are often a best friend.
How to Cope with the Loss of a Pet
When you lose a pet, you lose a piece of your heart. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. They loved you unconditionally, were a constant companion and a member of the family. Many adults treat their pets like children (even if they have children) and for kids, they are often a best friend. This is a time for celebrating a life lived as well as grieving a life lost.
Coping with your Loss
It is devastating to lose a pet and the grieving process will take time. Some people will experience the stages of denial, anger, guilt, depression and finally acceptance while others may find their grief is more cyclical – coming in waves of highs and lows. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Embrace this process; it is necessary and helpful in moving forward. It is okay to cry, to not cry, to laugh, to stay in bed. Take your time and never be ashamed of how you feel.
Helping Children Grieve
For many children, the loss of a pet is the first experience they have with death. It is important to address what happened honestly and give them the chance to grieve as well. You can help by letting your child or children see that you are grieving too. Talk about the pet, do not ignore the issue. It is also important to let them know the death of the pet was nobody’s fault.
Children may blame themselves or their parents for what has happened, trying to make sense of the situation. They also may fear that they will lose others that they love. Let children know that dying is a part of life but it is unlikely something will happen to you or to them. Keep an open dialogue about everyone’s feelings and concerns.
The Healing Process
Facing your pain is an important
part of the healing process. You may or may not want to stare at photos of your beloved pet, talk about them, or reminisce. However, you will feel better if you do, after all pretending they didn’t exist is no way to honor their memory.
Start small. If you haven’t already, frame some photos or make a memory box with a picture and some of your pet’s favourite things. If it feels right, create a special place of honour in the house for your pet and place flowers by their picture.
Hold a funeral for your pet. Some people may feel this is inappropriate but you may feel it is the right thing to do. You could do this on your own, with the immediate family or with extended family and friends. Let everyone grieve together as well as celebrate the memories this special animal gave all of you.
Have a monument made for your pet. It can be large or small, left where your pet is buried or kept at home in your yard or in the house. This monument can become the place you go to ‘visit’ your pet and is a beautiful way to commemorate their life.
Finally, create a legacy. Whether this is planting a tree, making a donation in their name or creating a scrapbook. The memory of your wonderful, loving companion will live on through these actions.