3 Ways to Cope With the Loss of a Pet

February 3rd, 2016

redwood park dog friendlyLosing a pet is both difficult and inevitable. Throughout their lives, pets bring us joy, laughter, and great memories. When a pet passes away, it feels as though part of us dies too. It’s hard to imagine what life is going to be like without them.

Here are a few tips to help you heal…

1. Surrender to the Grieving Process

You may find yourself feeling confused, hurt, overwhelmed, or even disoriented. You also may notice yourself becoming angry and exhausted, both physically and emotionally.

Don’t worry… everything you are feeling is normal. You are in the midst of a trauma. Give yourself permission to grieve.

Although grief seems like a lonely process, you don’t have to go through it alone. You can get support from friends, family members, pet-bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, or local or online pet-bereavement groups. Your local Humane Society may offer a pet-loss support group or be able to refer you to one.

2. Create a Ceremony to Honor Your Pet

Ceremonies and rituals can be very therapeutic to ritualize your pet’s death.

One client of ours plants a fruit tree in the memory of their pet. Another client ceremoniously buried some of her dog’s favorite things in the yard. Providing a dignified burial or cremation can help you express your love for your dog and to get closure.

3. Trust Your Gut

There’s no rush to bring home another dog. No matter what others around you are saying, only you know the timetable that feels right. Some people bring dogs home within a few weeks. The loving energy of a puppy can be particularly healing, and replace the sadness with joy.

Some people can take up to 5 or 10 years before getting another dog. Taking your time to honor your dog before getting a new one can feel like the right thing to do. The only right answer is the one that feels best to you. Make sure you do what works for you and your family, without letting yourself get pressured by those around you.