How to Cope with the Grief of Losing a Pet

Published: August 31, 2022

     

Pets. Most of us have cared for and loved a variety of pets. In childhood, an early way to learn responsibility is caring for a dog, cat, bird, or other critter. Whether you had a Labrador retriever or a ferret, an iguana or a Siamese kitten, you enjoyed their unconditional love. They are often as much family members as our own siblings. Through the high moments of our lives and the lowest, our pets sense our emotions. They are our companions in life.

     The loss of a beloved pet is often our first experience with grief. Few animals live longer lives than humans. Owning pets almost guarantees that we will outlive them. The pain we feel when they die is just as intense as if a relative had passed on. Society provides a myriad of ways to cope with and grieve the death of a person. Time-honored rituals and gatherings bring mourners together to reminisce and share memories.

     When a beloved pet dies, there are no established rites to share and overcome our grief. We are sad at the loss of beloved pets but we might also experience other emotions like anger and guilt. We “put our pets to sleep” to alleviate their suffering, but often we have lingering doubts whether we provided the best care for them. Thoughtless friends might even belittle our grief, saying, “She was just a pet.”

     Experts assure us that our grief on the passing of a beloved animal companion is very real. As with a human death, the loss can bring on depression, lack of interest in daily activities, isolation, and similar symptoms. While everyone grieves at a different rate, debilitating or particularly long-term difficulties may warrant professional help.

     You do not have to grieve alone. Take some cues from memorial services you have attended, since the emotions are similar.

     * Have a gathering of family and friends, sharing stories about the deceased pet.

     * If appropriate have a burial and create a grave marker.

     * If the pet was cremated, bury or scatter the ashes in their favorite spot.

     * Write an obituary for your pet; many bereaved animal lovers share their feelings on social media. * Make an ornament with a paw impression.

     * Put together a scrapbook of photos of your pet to remind you of the good times you shared.

     * Make a memorial donation to an animal shelter or rescue organization. Create a fundraiser so others can contribute as well.

     * If you have surviving pets, be especially kind to them, since they are missing their buddy, too.

     Will you adopt another pet? Some people quickly find another critter to love and care for; others wait months or longer to fill the void. Even folks who swear they will never have another pet find themselves with a new animal family member in good time.

     Among pet grief resources on the Internet are:

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/grieving-the-loss-of-a-pet/ fro, the renowned Cleveland Clinic and advice from the Humane Society,  

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/coping-death-your-pet

Thanks for reading our blog. You can reach out to us, Raynor & D'Andrea Funeral Home anytime at 1-800-737-0017.

 
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