Our pets are a part of our family and play a big role in our lives. There is an undeniable special bond between pet owners and their animals, which makes grieving their loss just as challenging and painful as grieving the loss of a friend or family member.
The team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital understands the special human-animal bond and the important role pets have as part of the family. To better support you through this difficult time, we’ve put together this list of tips to help you cope with the loss of a beloved pet:
Tips on How to Cope With the Loss of a Pet
While there is no “right” way to grieve, there are some important things to remember to help yourself work through the process.
Let yourself grieve: The loss of a pet can be devastating, and it’s important to acknowledge your grief. Allow yourself time to feel the emotions you feel, and to give yourself some space from work or social situations. Give yourself grace and understanding that you’ve just lost someone very dear to you, and it’s okay to experience those complicated emotions.
Write down your feelings or memories: Another great way to process your emotions is to write about them. Journal your feelings or favorite memories of your pet, or write a poem, essay, or short story about them.
Understand that some might not understand: It’s natural to feel grief and sorrow at the loss of your pet, however some people might not extend that understanding to you. Unfortunately, some people may be less empathetic if they are not pet owners or don’t have a bond with a special animal. Always remember to take care of yourself and your family first, no matter how others might respond.
Create a memorial: Whether it’s a scrapbook of photos, a shadow box decorated with their favorite toys and their collar, or a pet memorial garden, finding a way to memorialize your pet will help you and your family process the grief and have a special way to remember and honor your beloved pet.
Lean on others: Don’t be afraid to lean on others who will support you through this difficult time. Talk to friends and family members, or seek out support groups to help through grieving a pet loss.
Be honest with your children: The loss of a pet may be the first experience a child has with death. The child may place blame on themselves or others, or feel frightened by the situation. Always be truthful, and don’t lie to them that Fido ran away. If they discover the truth in the future, they may feel betrayed or angry. You can support them by sharing your own feelings and expressing grief, and allow them to partake in creating a memorial or journaling their feelings.
Support your other pets: If your other pets in the home had a bond with the pet who has crossed over the rainbow bridge, be sure to give them lots of extra love and attention. They may be lethargic, or refuse to eat or drink. Continue to show them love and try to keep them on their routine to help them get back on track. You can always contact your veterinarian for more tips on supporting your surviving pets through this time.
The loss of a pet is devastating, and grieving a pet is extremely difficult. Take comfort in knowing that your pet loved you unconditionally, and that the grief you feel is valid. The team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital is here for you and your family during this time. Feel free to contact us at (530) 771-6916 for more resources and support.