Pet Loss

By: Christine Dangler
Friday, October 25, 2019

The loss of a pet is very much a grieving experience. The emotional bonds formed with a pet often exceed the bonds formed with other people in a person's life. Many people never think of them as pets, but rather very special companions, best friends or a family member. A pet is the confidant with whom you can share everything without fear that they will repeat it to others.

My two dogs, Charlie and Carly, are everything to me. They are my family. They both offer unconditional love; provide comfort when they sense something is bothering me; and are ready to play or go outside for a walk at a moment’s notice.

The bond between a person and his or her pet(s) can be quite strong. The grief from the loss of a pet can be just as intense as when you lose a person that is close to you. It can be heart-breaking.

A major problem pet owners face is how pet loss is often discounted grief by society. It is frequently the case that friends and family members do not realize the depth of this emotionally discounted loss.

Family and friends will give the griever suggestions about why they shouldn't feel bad, which never really helps them feel better. If anything, these suggestions encourage the griever to suppress and bury his or her emotional pain. The most common advice people offer to pet owners is to replace the loss with a new pet. Not so fast! You can’t replace a loved one and you can’t replace a beloved pet either.

While each person has a different approach to healing, here are some things that you can do to help ease the pain of losing a pet:

Allow yourself to grieve: Give yourself all the time you need to grieve the loss of your pet. Loss has no timeline. As with a relationship you have had with a person close to you, you and your pet had a special, unique relationship. This loss of this relationship requires time to heal.

Reach out: Share your memories of your pet with family, friends, and neighbors about your loss. You can also search for a local pet loss support group in your area that may help you express your grief and start the healing process. If your grief is overwhelming, you may want to seek professional help or contact a pet loss hotline.

Take care of yourself: As mentioned before, there is no timeline for grief. If you take care of your emotional and physical need, the healing process can begin. Pay attention to your own feelings and be good to yourself.

Memorialize your pet: Many people turn to pet funerals and memorial services to help with the grieving process. You can celebrate and memorialize the life of your pet and the personal, unique relationship you shared. The service can help you say good-bye to your pet and offer comfort and closure. It can be as casual or elaborate as you would like.

I hope this information helps you on your journey to help heal your heart with the absence of your cherished companion.

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