Coping with the Loss of Your Pet

There are two distinct differences between grieving the loss of a pet and a human being. The first is the element of unconditional love. Our pets love us regardless of our mood, availability, or our communication skills. The second is that society does not acknowledge that it is normal and healthy to grieve the loss of a companion animal. These two factors make it exceedingly difficult for a pet owner to say goodbye and cope with their heartbreak. If you are anticipating or have lost a pet, here a few suggestions to assist you through the grieving process.

1.Acknowledge your loss. This can be as simple as saying a prayer or having something more formal with friends. Do what makes you feel comfortable and in the time frame that meets your needs.

2.Allow yourself time to grieve. It is very important to express your feelings verbally. Give yourself permission to cry. Understand that it is normal to feel inconsolable.

3.Consider keeping a journal where you can record your feelings, dreams, and experiences during your initial loss.

4.Collect photos and put together a memory book incorporating a life history or incidents you fear forgetting as time passes.

5.Take care or your physical health. Try to exercise, walk, and take vitamins. Grief compromises your immune system making you susceptible to illness.

6.It is normal to contemplate suicide after a severe loss. If you find yourself so depressed as to act on your despair, seek professional help.

7.Join a pet loss support group. Here you will encounter like-minded people who understand your condition and can assist you with your grief.

8.Be patient with yourself and accept that you will not be functioning normally until you reach a level of acceptance. Your world has changed, your responsibilities altered, and you have lost the physical presence of a dear friend.

9.It is normal to feel a sense of guilt if you had to make a decision to euthanize your pet. You may find yourself doubting your actions even though you know that you did the kindest most loving thing a devoted pet owner could do. It is common to place blame on yourself for possibly missing symptoms, not taking action sooner, or not spending more money on your pet.

10.Realize that anger is part of the process. This anger can be directed toward yourself, the vet, or your pet for leaving you. Admit your anger and try to express it in an appropriate manner.

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