Healing from the Loss of a Pet? 5 Things to Help You Through the Grieving Process.
In our society, the loss of a pet isn’t considered as devastating as the death of a person. But to pet owners, that just isn’t the case. They are there whenever we need them, they love us unconditionally, and are our true companions. So, when one of them passes away, it not only alters our day-to-day, it changes our entire world.
We all grieve in different ways and for different periods of time. There is no set way to do it but here are 5 things you can do to help you through this difficult time.
"Nothing that grieves us can be called little; by the external laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size." Mark Twain, 'Which Was The Dream?'
1. Talk about it. Grief is usually a very private emotion and not so easy to talk about. However, staying bottled up and keeping it all to yourself is never healthy. Talk to a friend, neighbor, or family member. They probably had interaction with your pet and they more than likely want to talk about it. Share stories, show pictures, and remember all the good times you had together. It is also good to talk to a specialist like a therapist or a clergy member who deals with grief in their profession.
"There is no grief like the grief that does not speak." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2. Memorialize them.
There are so many ways to memorialize your pet that will greatly help you process your grief. You can plant a tree or flowers with a plaque with your pet’s name on it. Donate a bench to the dog park you always went to with an inscription of your dog’s name. Create a shadow box with their collar, photo, etc. inside it and hang on your wall. Have a memorial service where friends and family can attend and share stories and memories. A company specializing in this is Parting Tails. They offer memorial boxes and much more.
"Although it's difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, May looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow." Author unknown
3. Get active.
Yes, exercise is good for endorphins and elevating your mood but so does volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter, adoption fairs, and fundraisers. Imagine creating a 5k in honor of your pet that raises funds for pet charities. It could happen each year and bring in much needed funds. Volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter. You both get the exercise, and it helps the dog with fundamentals like walking on a leash or socializing them by taking them to a park. Every shelter also has rooms just for cats and kittens that you can play with them and help socialize them as well.
4. Write about it.
Just not ready to talk about it yet? Then write about it. Get a journal and paste pics of your pet in it and write everything you are feeling. Don’t censor yourself…if you feel it, write it. If you’re angry, sad, or even numb, all emotions can be worked through a journal. Not sure what to write? Favorite stories, memories, and the first time you saw your pet are all good topics. Once you do this, it will help work out your pain and be a great way to also memorialize your pet.
5. Consider fostering.
Of course, you are not ready for a new pet but to bridge that gap consider fostering. You get the companionship of a pet, and they get a safe and comfortable home instead of a kennel. Win-win! Having a furry face around will always make you feel better and because they need you for food, exercise, play and comfort, it requires you to step out of your grief to make that all happen. Be aware though that often people become “foster fails” but what’s wrong with that?!
The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no set time for you to “get over it”. Take your time and let yourself heal. Feel what you need to feel and do what you need to do.
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran