Experiencing the loss of a pet is the most difficult aspect of pet ownership. Whether the death is a sudden one, or one you’ve had time to mentally prepare for, it’s a traumatic and life changing experience. Below are 9 steps for helping you to cope with the loss of a pet.
1. Burial Spot:
Create a special burial spot for your beloved pet or for his ashes. This will give you a place to visit, place flowers and spend quiet reflection time when you’re feeling melancholy about the loss of your pet. Plant a pretty tree near the burial spot and watch as new life grows.
Order a stone with your pet’s name and the dates of his birth and death. Place the stone near the site of his burial or his ashes.
3. Pet Journal:
Purchase a journal and record special memories of your pet while they are still fresh in your mind. Ask friends and family members to record special memories they have of your pet as well.
4. Pet Scrapbook:
Create a scrapbook with the pictures you have of your pet. Visit the scrapbooking store and purchase fun printed pages and cute stickers to decorate the pages of the book. Place your pet’s identification tag in a special place in the scrapbook. If you like, use the pages of your journal to guide you in writing special memories on every other page of the scrapbook.
5. Stages of Grief:
Accept the fact that you will experience the traditional stages of grief. Traditionally the stages of grief include denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. You might not feel each stage and it is entirely normal not to feel them in any particular order, but allow yourself to feel each one as it comes. If it helps, journal your feelings in the journal you purchased in Step 3.
6. Find Comfort in Your Friends:
Your true friends will encourage you to share memories of your pet which will help to lighten the load of grief you are carrying. Stay away from insensitive people who may not feel the same connection to animals that you have felt. If possible, talk with other pet owners who have also experienced a similar loss. Sometimes those who have experienced similar hardships are those who are able to offer the most comfort.
7. Healthy Activity:
Replace the activity that you shared with your pet with an equally healthy one. For instance, if you and your pet often played fetch in the park, maybe you can jog around that same park a few days a week.
8. Include Other Animals in Your Life:
Spend time with other animals. If your friends or family members have pets, envelope yourself in the warmth of those animals. Or, spend time volunteering at an animal shelter. What a productive and selfless use of your grief!
9. Future Pet:
Don’t close yourself off to the possibility of future pets. Although you need to spend time mourning the loss of your loved one, you need to keep your heart open to the joys of pet ownership and remember what you loved about that special relationship.
If you allow yourself time to grieve and you follow the steps above, you will be better prepared to cope with the loss of your pet.
And for further comfort, you might want to read Eugene O’Neill’s classic – his dog’s Last Will and Testament – it’s a wonderful read!