Grieving The Loss Of A Pet

Dog and Girl

Given the very close bond some owners have with their pet companions, it's understandable that the passing of a pet may cause deep grief for some. As you experience sadness over the death of your pet, it is important to remember that this is something you can cope with. Here we address two common questions that grievers are conflicted with.

Is this normal? There is an assumption by many that pet loss shouldn't hurt as much as the loss of a human being. For someone who has truly loved a pet, however, the loss of that animal can feel just as devastating as a human loss, if not more. In fact, many people consider their pets as part of the family.
So if you're experiencing an overwhelming sense of sadness and you're wondering if it is normal, especially if some of your friends are telling you "You'll get over it eventually", be assured that it is completely normal.

How do I allow myself to grief? When trying to get over grief, it's important to note a few points. Give yourself permission to grieve. Only you know what your pet meant to you. Be patient with yourself. Don't let everyone else dictate the pace that you should mourn. Remember to also take care of yourself. Get lots of rest, good nutrition and exercise.

What are some ways I can grief? Everyone have different ways of grieving. Understanding how you grieve and finding ways to cope with your loss can help to alleviate some of the pain of loss. You might find some of the tips below helpful.

1. Keep a journal. Pay attention to your feelings, even if you don't understand them. Writing about them will give you a channel to process these feelings.

2. Have a creative outlet. Writing poetry or strumming on the guitar may be the choice for some. Others may prefer painting or pottery or even baking as a positive way to release their grief.

3. Get moving. Moving your body will create the momentum for you to feel better. Walk in the woods, exercise or take a yoga class. Anything that gets you moving for at least a short time during the day can help life your spirits.

4. It's ok to cry. Repressing your emotions is just going to prolong the pain. Don't bottle up your feelings, let them out!

5. Reach out to people who have had a similar experience.

6. Prepare a memorial for your pet. Writing down the good memories and how your pet has been a part of your life will help honour your times together.

7. Get professional help. Don't be shy about getting professional help from therapists or grief counsellors if you really think that you can't cope alone.