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10 Steps to Deal With the Loss of Your Pet
Sometimes special animals come into our lives and touch our hearts in a way that leaves us forever changed. A chapter ends as the familiar road you traveled together comes to a sudden and. You are in uncharted territory without a map. Lost. The world as you know it may look completely different.
Not everyone realizes that the bond between people and their pets can be deeper than with a loved one. Some people often spend more time with their pets than with family members. Pets don’t judge us or hurt us like humans can. Losing their constant, unconditional love can leave us empty.
There is no better way to get over the loss of a beloved pet. The way through the grieving process is different for everyone. Here are a few things I found helpful when I lost Maggie, my beautiful black lab with whom I had the most precious relationships:
1. Have a ritual after your pet dies and invite friends and family who knew and loved your pet. Share stories about how your beloved animal enriched your life and the lives it touched. You may also want to create an altar memorial with a candle and your pet’s photo, along with other items that belong to or remind you of your pet, such as their pet’s dish, special toys, and a lock of their hair.
2. Recognize that grieving the loss of a pet can be extremely deep, and honor that by giving your grief space to exist. Let your tears go. Set aside a quiet time each day where you can reduce the demands of the outside world. Write in your diary. Let your pain be expressed and released.
3. Let the compassion and understanding of supportive family friends and strangers.
4. Don’t be surprised if some family members or friends aren’t as supportive as you’d expect them to be. Allow yourself time off from friends who don’t understand the depth of your grief, who try to downplay your loss because they’re an animal rather than a person, or who have unrealistic expectations of you at this very vulnerable time.
5. Let people know if you need to talk about your lost pet. Many well-meaning people may try to change the subject to make it easier for you, and you may need to let them know that it’s okay to talk about it.
6. Find a pet loss support group locally or online and use national pet loss helplines.
7. Take care of yourself. Get a massage. Take nature walks. Think. Eat lunch with a supportive friend. Do what feeds your soul.
8. Know yourself well enough to know whether getting a new pet at this time will help or hinder our grieving process. Some people do just fine jumping right in with a new dog or cat. Others may resent having a new animal in the home too quickly.
9. Help animals at your local humane society or get involved with the many breed rescue groups in your area. It can help ease your pain if you allow your love for your lost pet to become part of a greater purpose, such as helping and caring for homeless animals.
10. Try new things to discover more about yourself. those creative endeavors you’ve often thought about but never tried.
We all have to deal with grief and loss eventually. It is one of the great equalizers in life. Allow your pet’s death to shake the foundations of who you are, as death often does. When we’ve experienced loss, it can be a good time to let go of what no longer fits in your life. what aren’t you In my case, after losing Maggie, I changed both personally and professionally. I hope my steps on the road from loss to healing can now be of use to you in your time of loss. As devastating as it is to lose our beloved animals, this time can also be a great opportunity to examine our life’s purpose and find new meaning.
©Permission to reproduce is provided with credit to the author.
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