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Pets are more than just animals — they’re family. And anyone who’s ever lost a pet knows it’s terribly heartbreaking. Whether it’s your first time to lose a pet or your third, it never really gets easier, only more familiar. Thankfully, there are many ways to ease the sorrow and help you recover from such a devastating loss. If you or someone you know is suffering from the loss of a pet, then take a minute to read these seven tips to help you cope and return to a more peaceful state of mind.
One of the most important things you have to remind yourself of following the loss of a pet is that it’s important and perfectly OK to grieve. Everyone grieves in different ways and for different periods of time. It may last a few days or a few years. Either way, it’s a completely personal experience that may require taking off work or spending some time alone to bounce back.
A big part of the healing process is expressing your grief openly. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and memories. Holding it in will only make the grieving process more difficult and painful. This is especially important to remember when talking to your children about the loss of a pet. When explaining the situation, be sure to express your own grief and reassure your kids that it’s OK to be sad and that you also feel the same way.
Spending time with your surviving pet can help you cope with grief and ease the pain of losing an animal. Surviving pets may need a lot of TLC at this time because they are also affected by the loss. Even if they weren’t close, your surviving pet may whimper and act lethargic because they are distressed by the sudden changes. Comfort your surviving pet and try to create a positive emotional state within the home.
Whether it’s spending time at the park where you used to walk your dog, volunteering at an animal shelter, or making a donation in your pet’s memory, these special moments can help you turn a painful situation into a positive one. If you like to write, paint, or make music, you can dedicate it to your beloved pet.
Keeping a journal is one of the best things you can do to record your feelings, thoughts, and memories about your pet and keep track of your grieving process. Doing so will help you work through the grief and make sense of the things happening around you.
Memorializing your pet can help you overcome your loss and remember the good times you had together. You can have a memorial for your pet in private or with the company of friends and family. Some people write a letter to their pet or create a photo album and leave it by an urn or their pet’s burial spot. You can memorialize your pet on his or her birthday or anytime you feel like reminiscing.
Many people have been in your exact shoes and know what it’s like to lose a beloved pet. Seeking support is a healthy and encouraged way to cope with the death of a pet. There are many forms of support available to grieving pet owners, including pet-loss support hotlines, pet bereavement counseling services, and online support groups with chat rooms and message boards where people can tell their story and share comforting words. Support can also come from friends and family who knew your pet and can help you hold on to the good memories.
Book Review Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss, by Sid Korpi
by Therese Kopiwoda on July 7, 2011
Losing a pet is the toughest part about loving a pet, and something we just can’t get around. The fact that they aren’t human doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. So, for many of us, me included, it can be an extremely depressing and difficult time.
Personally one of the best ways I’ve found to deal with the grief is to distance myself from people who don’t understand. And, when I need it, surround myself with those people who do get it. There have been several instances when I was told “get another one” after losing one of my pets. I tend to distance myself from those people very quickly. Fortunately though, I have people in my life who I can turn to because they totally understand the grief. (That includes many of you reading this post, who were there when I lost my cat, Tequila.)
In her book, Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss: Personal and Professional Insights on the Animal Lover’s Unique Grieving Process, Sid Korpi writes about this, and a lot of other ways to work through our grief. She shows us how to:
- Emotionally prepare for a pet’s euthanasia and understand when it’s time
- View death not as an ending, but (as animals see it) a natural transition
- Cope with being around insensitive people
- Memorialize and celebrate the pet’s life
- Move on after loss and love again
Good Grief isn’t like other pet loss books I’ve read. Rather than the clinical, “here are the 5 stages of death” and “seek professional help if needed” Sid writes about different ways to deal with the grief and doesn’t judge anyone because of their needs or beliefs. She totally gets that we all grieve differently and need to deal with it in the way that makes most sense for us, as individuals. She takes a very gentle, understanding approach to pet loss and grief, and urges us to be kind to ourselves and find what works best.
It’s been a year and a half since I lost Tequila but there are times when I miss her terribly. So, even though it’s been a while, I felt comforted as I read Good Grief.
This wonderful 69-page ebook by author Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen features 75 helpful tips to help you cope with pet loss. I among many other experts and laypersons offered our insights, which are included. Please give it a look!
From a letter I received from a reader:
I read most of your book [the same night I got it]—couldn’t put it down, and I’ve already lent it to a friend. I should definitely get more in the future. It’s a great resource. It even helped with some more grieving I needed to do for my parents.
— Cristina O.
This letter exemplifies a key, yet perhaps unanticipated point about pet loss: When you undergo the grieving process for a beloved animal companion, you also can expect to have the pain of old losses resurface. Grief is never really “done.” There are always new layers to experience, and these often link themselves to times when you’re experiencing similar emotions. This probably has to do with the particular neuro-pathways utilized for those kinds of feelings—can’t be sure, though; I left my copy of “Brain Surgery for Dummies” in my other suit—or maybe it’s a case of internal “misery loves company”-ism that brings those old emotions along for the current ride.
But revisiting old sorrows isn’t always a bad thing. Every time we do, we get rid of more toxins through our tears, we understand a bit more about our selves and how that person/pet fit into our lives then and now, we learn to value and appreciate what we have in the present, and so forth. A pet loss today can also open the heart to grief we avoided altogether in the past.
I was recently talking to a counselor friend of mine who told me the story of a rescued ragdoll cat, Teddy, she’d had for only a few short months before he died suddenly of feline leukemia. She said she sobbed uncontrollably for several days, only to realize that this cat’s purpose in her life was to remind her of an earlier loss she’d never fully grieved.
The cat she had for 21 years as she was growing up, the faithful friend who’d slept beside her head on her pillow for every day of their lives together, had been put to sleep by her father just after she’d moved out of her parents’ home and had just had her first child. Because of her emotional and energetic focus on her baby, she tucked away her really deep feelings for this cat and never shed a tear for his passing. It wasn’t until this recent rescue of a cat that resembled her childhood pet and his hasty demise that those four-decade-old feelings of grief got uncorked.
Once she’d put the clues together for herself, acknowledging Teddy’s selfless purpose for entering her life, she noticed that a stray cat she’d never seen before would be sitting atop his grave in her yard every day as she walked to her mailbox. This went on for two full weeks, and then, as abruptly as it had appeared, that messenger cat was suddenly never seen before.
Because our animal friends have shorter life spans than we do, part of their jobs, as it were, in this lifetime is to help us humans become accustomed to and more accepting of death as a part of the natural order of things. They heal us and make us stronger as we mourn the passing of each of these dear companions. It’s just one more thing to thank them for.
Check out my article in the latest issue of K9 magazine. Here’s the intro…
Coping With the Death of a Dog: A Springboard to Change
Written By Sid Korpi
Have you ever had a nightmare wherein you’re in a class you don’t remember signing up for, on a topic about which you know nothing, yet are expected to pass an exam right there on the spot? For many of us, that’s the kind of feeling we get as we try to navigate our way through the grief associated with pet loss. We never willingly signed up for it, and we haven’t a clue how to get through it—especially with plenty of folks seemingly bent on seeing us “fail.”
Unless surrounded solely by fellow animal lovers, we typically either hear people say out loud or perceive their unspoken sentiments that tell us, “Get over it already, it was just a silly dog. Just go get another one.”
Everywhere we look, it seems, there are impatient faces, tacitly denying us any chance to healthily express our emotions or process our grief. Bosses, co-workers, even family and friends appear to expect optimum performance by us of our day-to-day tasks while we struggle with one of life’s most painful lessons and, like the nightmare above, one for which there really is no way to prepare for the ultimate test.
Click here to read the full article.
Pet Love Infos And Tips | Pet Loss Support – The Seven Worst Things To Say When Someone Has Lost A PetThis author shows a wonderful sensitivity to those who are grieving a pet’s death and brings up numerous good points. If you’re feeling awkward about what to say to a friend who’s lost a pet, consult this article before inserting your foot in your mouth and/or doing irreparable harm to your relationship with that person.—Sid
Pet Loss Support – The Seven Worst Things To Say When Someone Has Lost A Pet
By: Ryan Hendricks
When a friend or loved one has lost their pet it is often very hard to know what to say to help. With over 200 million pets owned in the United States most of us will, at one time or another, be called upon to support an important person in our life as they experience the often times devastating loss of a pet. While it may be very hard to know what to say, an important part of supporting the loved one is to know what not to say:
- ” It was just a dog (fill in here: cat, horse, bird, rabbit, gerbil, etc)” – There are millions of households in America who have chosen to own a pet, often as a very important part of their family. The love that a pet owner shares with this pet is indeed a unique and special part of your loved one’s life and should never be minimized as “just a…” anything.
- ” If losing a pet is doing this to you, I would hate to see what you would do if you lost something really important, like a child” – This cannot be a helpful thing to say under any circumstance. While this attempt at “tough love” may seem like it will shake the loved one out of their misery, don’t say it. As someone once said, “never be a party to someone’s deepest pain; you may never be forgiven for it”.
- ” At least you won’t have the kitty litter (carpet spots, horse stall, cage) to deal with anymore” – Many times with the loss of a pet, those are just the routines that a pet owner misses the very most. The daily reminder that those chores are no longer necessary while seemingly freeing to someone from the outside can be a very painful part of the loss of a pet.
- “They are in a better place” – While a very nice thought, in the beginning throes of a loss, it can also be a very discomforting thought. To a pet owner the “best place” for their pet is in their home or in their arms. A responsible pet owner feels responsible for every aspect of their pet’s wellbeing and the bereaved pet owner may feel that they are letting their pet down by not “being there” any longer for them.
- “You can get another dog (fill in here: cat, horse, bird, rabbit, gerbil, etc)” – The bereaved pet owner knows this, it doesn’t have to be stated right away. Often a pet owner will need time to process their loss before they can contemplate bringing another pet into their lives. Many bereaved pet owners feel that they would be “unfaithful” to their beloved pet in finding another so quickly. Some actually do need to fill the space immediately with another pet. This suggestion can remain unspoken in the beginning of the grieving period.
- “I thought you were prepared for this” or “You have known this was coming” – Even though the bereaved pet owner may have been dealing with an aging or ill pet for a long period of time, the actual loss is something that really cannot be fully anticipated. Each pet loss is unique, even for the experienced pet owner who has traveled down the path of pet loss before. While often prepared for the process, the finality of the event and the acceptance of facing the days ahead without their pet’s presence is something that pet owners need to deal with in their own way.
- “Enough time has passed, you should be getting over this by now” or “It’s time to move on” – Time actually is the only thing that will get the bereaved pet owner in a “better place” with their loss but sometimes it can take a very long time. Every pet owner processes their loss at a different pace and the best thing that a loved one can do is wait and be gentle and patient. Perhaps some lovingly suggested pet loss support groups, online pet loss sites or helpful pet loss books would be a better approach.
While it can be very hard to know for sure what to say when a loved one in your life is facing the loss of a beloved pet here are two simple suggestions which are guaranteed to be on the list of “Things To Say When Someone Has Lost A Pet”:
“I Love You” and “I am so sorry” Say them softly and say them often.
Article From Pet Love Infos And Tips