Pets come into our lives with their wagging tails, comforting purrs, and cute little ways, and completely win us over. We love them just as much as we love anyone else, less furry, in our lives, and we really do share our lives with them. So, it can be devastating, to say the least, when your much loved furry, scaly, or feathery friend passes away.
If you’ve recently lost your little pal, and you are struggling with the grief of the situation (of course you are) then you need to know that, although it may not be easy, you can get through it. Here are some key things that will help you with that:
The Five Stages of Pet Loss Grief: Yes, They’re Real
First off, it’s important to know that grieving for a pet is a real thing. You’re not overreacting, and no, it’s not “just a pet.” There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You might find yourself thinking, “Maybe Fluffy is just playing an extremely committed game of hide-and-seek?” Spoiler alert: she’s not. It’s okay to feel these emotions; they’re as normal as binge-watching a TV series after a breakup.
Pet Memorials: Because They Deserve a Statue
A pet memorial, like these lovely Pet urns by Memorials.com, can be a beautiful way to honor your furry (or scaly, or feathery) friend. It could be a physical monument, like a plaque or a garden stone, or something more personal, like planting a tree. If you’re artistically inclined, you could even create a pet shrine that rivals some royal tombs. Just try to keep it tasteful – a life-sized, gold-plated statue might be a bit much for the neighbors.
The Pet Funeral: A Farewell Fit for a King (or Queen)
Don’t be afraid to have a pet funeral or a memorial service. It’s a chance to say goodbye properly and share stories about how Mr. Whiskers once bravely defended the house from a leaf. Gather friends and family who knew your pet, and celebrate their life. There may be tears, but hopefully, some laughs too, like remembering that time your bird learned some… colorful language.
Journaling: Unleash Your Inner Shakespeare
Sometimes, the best therapy is writing down your feelings. Start a journal and pour your heart out. Write letters to your pet, recount your favorite memories, or express everything you’re feeling. It’s like having a therapy session where the therapist is a notebook and doesn’t charge by the hour.
Support Groups: Misery Loves Company
Consider joining a pet loss support group. It’s comforting to talk to people who understand what you’re going through because they’re in the same leaky boat. You can share stories, cry, and learn from others’ experiences. It’s like an exclusive club, but the membership requirement is a broken heart.
Creating Art: Channel Your Inner Picasso
If you’re creatively inclined, channel your grief into creating art. Paint a portrait of your pet, write a song, or knit a sweater from their fur (okay, maybe not that last one). It’s a way to immortalize your pet and work through your feelings at the same time.
Remembrance Rituals: Keeping the Memory Alive
Establish a remembrance ritual. It could be as simple as lighting a candle on their birthday or the anniversary of their passing, or taking a moment to reminisce while looking at their photos. It’s like having a little ceremony that says, “Hey, you were important, and I haven’t forgotten you.”
Helping Others: Spread the Love
Sometimes, helping others can be a balm for your own grief. So, if you feel you might be up to it why not volunteer at an animal shelter where you can meet lots of other animals and help them to live a happier life, donate to a pet-related charity in your pet’s name, or foster animals in need? It’s a beautiful way to honor your pet’s memory by spreading the love they gave you.
New Pets: A Tricky Terrain
The question of getting a new pet all of your own can be a tricky one to grapple with. There’s no timeline for when it’s “appropriate” to do so – it’s a personal decision that only you can make. Just remember, a new pet isn’t a replacement; and they probably won’t be just like your much-loved last, but, of course, they won’t mind if you accidentally call them by your old pet’s name now and then!
Speak to a Professional
So not let anyone tell you that it is silly to speak to a therapist about the loss of your pet. They are such a big part of your life that losing them can be every bit as challenging as losing a human from your life, so if you are really struggling with it, there is absolutely no shame in talking to a trusted therapist who will listen non-judgementally and help you with some coping strategies to get through your grief more effectively, Heck there are even therapists who specialize in pet bereavement, and many pet insurance policies operate their own grief helplines too, so be sure to make use of them if you do think it could help.
Allow Yourself to Feel: It’s Okay Not to Be Okay
Finally, allow yourself to feel the grief. There’s no right or wrong way to mourn a much-loved dog cat or hamster. You might be fine one day and a puddle of tears the next, and that’s okay. It’s part of the healing process that you need to go through to get to a place where you can remember them fondly without the tears. Remember, you’re not just mourning a pet; you’re mourning a family member, a confidant, and a piece of your heart.
Losing a pet is tough – there’s no sugarcoating it. But with time, support, and perhaps a few of these coping strategies, the pain will ease. You’ll never forget your beloved pet, and honestly, you shouldn’t. They were awesome, and so were you for loving them.