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  • Writer's pictureMonique Verhoef, RTC

You have lost your pet…and it hurts!

#petlossandgrief #copingwithpetloss

Losing a beloved pet is often an emotional and overwhelming experience. For some it can be the hardest thing to go through. Unconsciously your pet has grown into your heart and perhaps your family. Your pet has become your best friend...but now has left you with a great emptiness. All you may feel is numbness, guilt, or an incredible pain. There still may be a stigma for people who lost their pet friend. For some it can be harder than losing a relative. How do you move on without your best friend?

In the beginning there may be some days you don’t want to get out of bed or just do nothing. Or perhaps you want to cry every time you see something that reminds you of your pet. Hey, that’s ok! Crying can help release the pain you are feeling. It is very normal to cry if you see your pet’s picture or pick up his favorite toy.

Coping with a loss is different per person. Some people think that distraction will be the only answer to their emotional stress and pain. However, by neglecting the grieving process you may do yourself more harm then healing. Sometimes the emotions you experience from the loss of your pet can also be the reaction from a past experience of loss.

It’s good to reflect on how you feel, especially when you feel sad. Talk to someone who understands your feelings. This could be a friend, or a trained professional who understands the emotional and painful aspects of losing a pet; I have lost three furry buddies my self. Revisiting the pain might be a painful task to do but remembering your beloved furry friend may help soften the sharp pain you are feeling right now.

Feeling guilty may be one of the hardest part of your grieving process. Feeling guilty of not recognizing his illness on time, or feeling guilty over the one time you accidentally stepped on his little toes. What ever it is you may feel guilty about, try to remember and count the things you have done for the benefit of your pet that made him feel safe and content. Remember that you are human and not someone who supposed to know everything on how to prevent this from happening. Acceptance is key here.

Framing your favorite picture of your pet, have his ashes distributed onto his favorite spot in the yard or creating a planter box with his collar around it may contribute to some peace and calm during the painful process of grieving.

It sometimes can be comforting to do something in memory of your pet, like making a donation, volunteering at the animal shelter or raising funds for other animals that need help.

Will you ever be able to have and love another pet? That is entirely up to you. Grieving over your dog should not be neglected and is a personal process. When getting a new pet, people often like to see similarities in the new addition, but soon this can lead to disappointment and create a wedge between you and your new pet. It is important to recognize and process the loss of your pet before adopting another one. Also, getting a new pet does not mean you are replacing your old best friend! Think about how your pet has opened up your heart to love him so dearly, because of his own quirky personality and the unconditional love he has given you that made him so very special.

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