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Tips For Dealing With The Death Of A Pet

  • 24/11/2020

You've just lost a member of the family. First off, recognise that whether it was a dog, cat, or even a goldfish, your pet was a part of your family just like any other member, and as such you're going to have feelings of loss that are just as strong and real. This is not only okay but completely normal. Allow yourself to grieve!

The same stages of grief associated with the death of a human loved one apply. These are respectively, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

As with the loss of anyone who means a lot to you, you'll need to go through and accept these stages of grief in order to move on and reach a point where you can look fondly on the memory of your former furry (or scaly) friend.

To those who may not understand or not view a pet as anything more than just that, a pet, you may find yourself defending your grief. If you encounter anyone like this who believes your four-legged friend is not worthy of that degree of sorrow, you may want to keep your cool, not respond negatively, and even have pity on him for not having known the joy and love that a pet brings to a family.

Know that although the aforementioned stages are the same regardless of who you are, the process is a very personal one and this can be different for each person. Some people take longer than others to go through the grieving process and some cope better than others. In any case, know that it's normal and even essential to go through this grieving period and hopefully this will make the whole experience an easier one.

One helpful tip to ease your heartache could include keeping your pet's favourite toy or blanket to have something of hers as a memento. Another idea is finding a special way to pay tribute to your pet. You could have a family ceremony to honour her and let each family member speak about what she meant to each of them. Younger children may benefit even more from this by being allowed to create something special to be buried with the animal or creating a memorial, say in the yard, a place to "visit".

And get your feelings out, don't bury them. Whether you write them down in a journal or express them through poetry, don't keep them bottled up. Also, find someone else to share your feelings with who will be understanding and non-judgemental. If need be and you find that you simply can't move forward (and the impact is greatly effecting other areas of your life) don't rule out the idea of counselling. Don't be afraid to ask for whatever help you may need.

These days it's a lot easier to find support in general -- look on-line for chat groups or to find a local offline support group. Nothing helps like knowing others are experiencing the same loss you are and sharing stories/feelings can be very therapeutic.

After some time has passed and you've done some healing you may be thinking about getting a new pet. This might come with some reservations and possibly feelings of guilt. Just know that when the time is right and you're ready to love and care for a companion again, this won't be a replacement -- you'll simply be adding a new member to your family.

And remember, the grief you're experiencing is the price you pay for having loved and been loved unconditionally by your pet and with time, trust that your pain will be replaced by fond memories and joy when you think about your pet.

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