Saying goodbye to your furry friend is never an easy thing to do. A dog is more than just an animal that accompanies your home. They are your best friend and become a part of your family. Losing a pet can be a traumatic experience, especially considering how much love you both shared for one another. The grieving process of losing a pet can be very similar to losing a family member. Most dog owners who lose their pets experience feelings of loneliness, guilt, and some even feel scared of life without them. When you or someone you know is struggling with the grieving process of losing a pet, here are four tips on how to cope with the loss:
Take time to grieve
Every individual will grieve in their own way when coping with a loss. During this time, it is important to listen to your emotions and do what is best for you to grieve properly. There is never a “perfect” time to get another pet. This is dependent on your state of mind and what will benefit your lifestyle. Some individuals feel ready for a new pet within a matter of days and some might feel ready in a few years. Take your time – and don’t feel pressured to rush any situations that you might not feel ready for. Always remember that it is okay to grieve in your own way!
Talk to someone
Finding a friend or family member that you can talk to about your loss can be very beneficial. Have an open and honest conversation about how they can help you through your grieving process. Talking with someone about the cheerful memories of your pet can also be a great coping mechanism. If you are struggling to find an individual to talk to about your loss, try reaching out to your vet for resources. A great resource is The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB). They are a volunteer organization that provides pet bereavement counseling, emergency support hotlines, and chat rooms to aid people throughout the mourning process. Having the opportunity to speak to other individuals who are experiencing the same type of loss as you can help you through your grieving process.
Memorialize your pet
A great way to honor your pet’s memory is by memorializing their presence with your friends and family. This is the time to share beautiful stories of their life and also gives others the opportunity to say goodbye. Some owners plan burial services and others will plant a tree and/or plant in their honor. There are so many ways to honor your pet, so find one that captures the essence of your best companion.
Put your feelings on paper
Journaling your thoughts and emotions is a great way to get you or someone you know through the grieving process. If you are struggling to recall happy memories with your pet, try writing down joyful experiences that you both have shared together. Some important questions that you can answer in your journal include: How did you meet your dog? What is your fondest memory? What will you miss most about your dog? Looking back on these questions will always be a great reminder of the beautiful memories you shared.