While it may seem impossible to get past the anguish, know that there are ways to cope with the loss of your pet. Come, take this journey with us.
(Guest post by Paul Andrews)
How to Cope With the Loss of Your Pet
The bonds we share with our loved ones are meaningful, deep, and strong. It’s what makes their loss devastating and heartbreaking. Most of us share a similar bond with our pets, which is why we experience extreme grief over love lost when our fur babies cross over to the other side. No more wags, woofs, or meows. No more toe nibbling, hair chewing cuddles under the blanket.
Yes, it’s painful. And healing is a slow journey that requires time and patience.
Family and friends will offer all kinds of advice on how to cope with the loss of your pet, making the grieving process so much harder, especially if you don’t want to talk about it. Hearing words like “get over it” and “move on,” no matter how well-intended, can seem callous.
We’re here to tell you that it’s okay to want to take your time. That it’s acceptable not to want to talk about it till you’re ready. We’re here to offer you the virtual support you need to feel functionally whole again.
Feel like reading just a little more?
Grab some ice cream, some tissues, and the cutest picture of your fur baby before you scroll.
The Loss of a Pet Is Always Difficult
We form an emotional and even spiritual bond with our furry friends and allow them to take up all the space in our hearts.
Wanna know why?
Because from the moment we wake in the morning to when we lay down at night, our pets are by our side. Even when we sleep, they watch over us.
This is why the sense of loss we experience on the death of a well-loved pet can be emotionally crippling.
“My pet died and I can’t stop crying.”
Crying is a perfectly natural reaction to losing a pet you deeply cared for and loved. It’s normal to feel this way because your heart is broken, and your entire being feels displaced.
It is perfectly alright to express what you’re feeling because talking about it will help you deal with your emotions healthily. You need to take the loss of a pet seriously.
While guidance on how to deal with the loss of a pet is essential, what anyone who’s lost a pet recently most definitely needs is a shoulder to cry on and a comforting hug.
Some Ways to Cope With the Loss
Most pet owners we’ve spoken to agree that they share a deep bond with their pets. Pets, dogs especially, have an uncanny way of making us feel loved and wanted. They make us feel like we are the center of their world. They give us emotional support, companionship, and boundless love, especially on days when we’re feeling low. Their no-holds-barred love and their unbridled adoration are no doubt cathartic.
This is why parting ways is hard—we miss the joy and innocent love they bring to our lives.
And while it’s difficult to think about tomorrow and the day after, know that your pet would want you to find the strength to be okay. To be able to get through just one day without the sniffles and the tissues and the ice cream.
Express Your Emotions
Why is losing a pet so painful? The connection you forge with a pet is deep, irrespective of whether you’ve had them for weeks, months, or years. From spending the day with your pet by your side to suddenly not having them around can be a painful reality to accept.
The sight of their toys, their favorite nook to curl in, and the empty spot on your side of the bed can be gut-wrenching reminders of their absence. But it’s important to feel the weight of this grief and embrace it.
Acceptance of the pain is what makes room for healing. Allow yourself to cry or feel angry without being self-judgemental. Allow yourself the freedom to mourn and even take time off if you need it.
Because grief affects people in different ways. No matter what anyone else thinks or says, your reaction right now is completely validated.
Have a Ceremony to Honor Your Pet
Gather family members and close friends for a ceremony in honor of your animal companion. Doing this can help you get the closure you need. Write a little poem or letter to your pet and read it out loud at the ceremony.
You can mention all the good times that were shared and how you will miss them immensely. When we say things out loud, our minds and hearts find it just a little bit easier to accept reality.
Remembering happy moments is one of the best pieces of advice we’ve heard when wondering how to cope with the loss of your pet, and we’d suggest the same to you.
Create a Memory Book For Your Pet
Do selfies with your pet or pictures of them in awkward but cute poses make up the bulk of your camera’s gallery?
Looking through those photos will unearth bittersweet memories, but they will also make you smile. Print the digital versions of your favorite photographs and take the time to create a memory book.
If you’re artistically inclined, filling pages with pictures, notes, dates, and fun DIY art will make it all the more special. If you’d rather not fuss with the glue and paper bits, try a photo album website.
Light a candle, put on your favorite music, and enjoy creating this book of lovely memories.
Trust us. The whole process of piecing together this memory book will be a therapeutic experience.
Don’t Shy Away From Professional Help
Most people see animals as “less than,” which is why they underestimate how the loss of a pet can affect pet parents. Advice like, “Hey, you’ll get over it, just give it some time,” is insensitive and ill-timed. Brush it off. Don’t deepen your anguish by wondering whether there’s something wrong with you. There isn’t.
You know how you feel. And your feelings are a natural part of the grieving process. And if you’re finding it exceptionally hard to cope, seek help to make the process less painful.
While friends are great, it might be better to get help from someone who sees things objectively, such as a therapist.
Therapy can be a relieving form of communication. It can provide a safe, comfortable, and non-judgemental space to share your feelings out loud. No one is going to judge you or make you feel silly for feeling so crushed and helpless.
Avoid pressuring yourself to grieve alone when you can reach out to someone for help.
Help Your Other Pets to Get Through It
Most of us have more than one pet. And, while they bicker over territory, toys, food, and attention, a lot like children, they share a bond too.
Do you have other pets who are feeling the weight of another’s obvious absence? If you’re unsure, look out for signs such as agitation, restlessness, and loss of appetite. Pets look to us for comfort in times of distress. While you rationalize and work through your grief, help your other pets to do the same too.
The best way is to pay attention to their needs. Stick to a feeding schedule and go for regular walks to help distract them. Indulging in everyday activities with your pets will help you cope as well.
How to Cope With Losing a Pet Suddenly
Grief works differently for those who don’t see it coming. Whether it was an accident or sudden sickness that took hold, losing a pet out of the blue can be gut-wrenching. It’s normal to feel utter shock and disbelief.
It’s also natural to feel angry or upset at someone who you think may have been responsible. Acknowledge that these feelings won’t turn back the clock and instead will only cause you more pain. Allow yourself to express your emotions without blaming yourself or others.
Why Coping With the Loss is Important
The love you shared with your pet is (and will always be) monumental, which is why coping with their loss can be debilitating.
Sleepless nights, skipping meals, avoiding people, and not being able to concentrate are all different ways of dealing with sorrow.
That said, while grieving is healthy and helps you acknowledge your loss, prolonged grief can adversely affect how your mind and body function in the long haul.
While no one can tell you what to do when your pet dies, the next few steps might help in your healing journey.
So how do you cope without losing yourself?
Tap Into Divine Healing Powers
Just because your pet is no longer physically by your side doesn’t mean you have to cut them out of your life. Celebrate each morning with a little prayer for your pet. You can also kickstart your day with healing affirmations like “I am grateful for the time I had with my pet, and I choose to heal.”
Afternoons or evenings got you down? Meditate when you feel the unexpected weight of the grief. Practicing breathing exercises will also open your heart to the power of healing.
The Healing Power Of Activity
Staying busy is a great way to distract yourself. Even if you don’t want to crawl out of bed, go for a run or a walk to clear your mind and absorb the beauty of your surroundings.
Find yourself skipping meals?
Prepare simple, nutritious meals in advance so that it doesn’t feel like a chore, or ask a family member or friend for help.
If you feel anger, don’t let it consume you. Instead, sign up for kickboxing or martial arts. You’ll feel better once you let out some steam.
Book a spa day. It might not sound ideal at first, but it will help ease your anxiety, relax your muscles, and calm your mind.
These are some of the best ways on how to cope with the loss of your pet. Trust that you will get there on your own time, and don’t let anyone, even yourself, rush the process. Doing so can cause negative feelings to brew and a compromised perspective of how to deal with loss.
Helping Others Cope
Know someone who recently lost a beloved pet? Unsure of what to say to them or how to help them?
Don’t say anything at all!
Offer just the right amount of support and comfort with memes, pet loss quotes, and poems.
Don’t forget the chocolates, flowers, and ice cream.
Take their 2 am weepy calls or pop over with popcorn for an all-you-can-watch movie marathon if they find it hard to sleep.
If you’re wondering how long it takes to get over the loss of a pet, there’s no set time frame. It may take weeks, months, or even years. Each of us is programmed with a unique coping mechanism.
How you experience the healing process will determine how soon you can recover. Ultimately, give yourself space and time to feel the width and breadth of your emotions. Stay strong, be patient, and one day when you least expect it, you’ll suddenly see the light at the end of the lonely dark tunnel you’ve been in.
Guest Author Bio-
Paul Andrews currently writes and curates content for The Upper Pawside
Note: If you would like to include a tribute to your pet on our memorial page, please do.
Let’s start a conversation in the comments below! How did you cope with the loss of your pet? Do you have any additional advice for those who are mourning now?