Coping with the Loss of a Pet

Grief is a complicated emotion. It is multifaceted and is associated with many situations of loss. Grief happens when people lose a job, fail to achieve a sought-after dream, say goodbye to a loved one, or lose a pet. Simply put, grief happens when we lose anything or anyone that we hold close to our hearts. Pets, in particular, come closer to our hearts than so many others. They give us unconditional love and are with us at our best and our worst. Coping with the loss of a pet is never easy, but there are ways we can deal with this debilitating emotion and move on to a brighter future.

Tips for Managing Your Grief

Grief is natural, but you should try to not let it overwhelm you. Instead, use healthy ways to cope with your loss and help to comfort your family, too. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you deal with the loss of your beloved friend:

  • Realize that grief is personal to you. Everyone grieves differently, and the grieving process has no set timeline. Give yourself and your family the time they need to accept their loss and begin the process of moving on.
  • Your grief is normal. Feelings of intense sadness or loneliness are perfectly normal, so don’t try to ignore these emotions – give them their own place and express your feelings freely to your friends and family.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to others who have lost pets before and seek their guidance. They likely have key advice from their own experience and can help in your healing process.
  • Do what feels right to you. Whether you feel a funeral or simply a small memorial with your family is appropriate, do what feels right to you. A ceremony can help give you a sense of closure.
  • Keep a memento. Whether a clay paw print, a lock of fur, or a framed photo, create a memento to remember your pet by and celebrate the life they had. Your pet may be gone, but your memories together will be with you always.
  • Try to maintain a normal routine. This is important not only for yourself but other pets you may have, too. Pets can become distressed at the loss of their friend, and may even react to your display of grief as well. Maintain their schedules and even increase their exercise if you feel up to it.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. If your grief feels too overwhelming to handle alone, seek the help of a professional grief counselor. These are compassionate people who are trained to deal with grief—let them help you!

Grief is a personal affair, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Seek family, friends, and even professional help, give yourself time to heal, and soon you will be able to move past your grief and accept the loss of your pet. With time, you’ll be able to look back on memories fondly and celebrate the life of your pet, instead of dwelling on their loss.