Pet loss can be a devastating blow for loving pet owners. It is important to understand that grieving pet loss is a process;
you need to allow yourself time to experience your emotions and time to heal.
You can expect to feel one or more of the following emotions during the grieving process:
- Guilt – You may feel like you should have done more. Try to put aside feelings of guilt and know you did your best.
- Denial – Some pet owners feel the need to get rid of anything related to the pet. For others, they feel getting rid of things is disloyal.
- Anger – You may feel angry toward those involved somehow in the loss, such as family members, your veterinarian, even God.
- Depression – You may find yourself feeling overwhelmingly sad, and disinterested in daily activities. Seek professional help if your depression continues.
- Acceptance – Eventually, at your own pace, you will accept your pet loss. This is not to say that it will not hurt anymore, but you will accept the reality of the loss.
Try to face pet loss as openly and honestly as you can. Find people with whom you can discuss your feelings.
Experiencing pet grief together can be a healing process for all of you.
Our pets are a gift from heaven, but we don't get to keep them nearly long enough!
We love our animals so much, and it's so hard to let them go. The loss of any beloved pet has a drastic impact on our lives and is equal to or worse than that of losing a human family member. Losing a little one causes extreme anguish and sorrow. This is a natural reaction when you lose a loved one, whether human or animal; and the stages of mourning are the same. Grievers feel the identical shock and denial, anger and guilt, sorrow and depression.
Yes, it is okay to cry! It's okay to grieve over your loss. You have the right to grieve because you've lost a loyal companion and a best friend. You've lost a family member who gave you unconditional love and acceptance. You've lost the one who loved you no matter what you did or didn't do.
Anger and guilt are natural, but you must allow yourself to go through all the reaction stages of death: denial & disbelief, anger, guilt, depression, and finally, acceptance. There is no order to these stages. Be sure each person in the family, including children, is allowed to share their grief.
If it bothers you to see your pet's belongings, you might want to put them out of sight so you are not constantly reminded of your loss. After a while, when you are feeling stronger, you can bring them out again.
To help yourself overcome the sorrow and grief you are feeling, have some kind of burial ceremony to say goodbye to your dear angel. If you have other pets, they are most likely grieving also. Let them be a part of it all. Write a eulogy to say how much you loved your little one and tell about all the good times and happiness you shared. Talk about your pain and loss to someone else who will understand what you are going through. Other people who have also lost a pet are the ones most likely to offer you their comfort and support because they know the horrible pain it causes. In times when the pain feels unbearable, focus on all the good memories. Use pictures and some of your little one's favorite belongings to create a special remembrance. Use your angel's tags as a necklace, or put them on a key chain. Go for a walk or call a friend on the telephone to fill the time you usually spent with your precious one. Do something you think your sweet baby would like for you to be doing at this moment. Look through the pictures you have of your darling and remember all the love and happy times you shared. Remember, too, that our little loves are waiting for us at Rainbow Bridge.
After the tears have dried and you are feeling somewhat normal again, consider getting another pet. Nothing can ever replace the precious little life you've lost, but another pet can become a dear friend to share your love and your life. Our cherished ones give so much love and happiness to us in their lifetimes that I feel we are obligated to pass that love on to other animals who desperately need homes. Who knows? One of those furry little babies might just fill a small part of the huge hole in your heart.