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How to cope with Pet Loss Coping with Pet Loss

Coping with Pet Loss

Coping with Pet Loss

Having loved a pet and lost a pet is a major part of one’s life. Your pet loved you and was your true friend and family member.  Whether or not those that are around you realize it, you are deeply hurt and saddened. Grief, sorrow and mourning are our final expression of love and understanding.  Allow yourself this time to reflect and remember all that made your time together wonderful. Allow yourself time to heal. 

People cope with feelings in many different ways all depending on your personality, upbringing, surroundings, personal situations etc.  Healing consists of several steps, which ought to be taken one at a time.  It is an experience that at first seems impossible to tackle but eventually will help you move forward and allow you to remember your pet the way that will comfort you forever. Your pain will ease.

At first you may experience, shock, denial, deep sadness, anger, loneliness, self-pity, guilt and regret…all normal when grieving. Everyone who has ever loved and lost a close relative or close friend has experienced some of these feelings and that feeling that no one can fill that emptiness that person left behind, same goes for your pet.  It means that you loved, and you were loved.

Let time help you heal.  It is important to acknowledge and not deny these emotions, but it is also important to find understanding of the situation and work towards remembering your love and making peace with your loss.

Sharing positive memories is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the memory of your pet. Share a story with a close friend, write in your journal a special moment that you never want to forget, frame your favorite photo of you and your pet, place a memorial stone or marker in the garden, plant a tree.  Concentrate on recollections that are great reminders of time spent.  Creating such a tribute can help you cope with the grief and will provide comfort in years to come.

Helping your Child with Pet Loss

Children develop close bonds with their pets.  And when their companion passes away, they need to know it is okay to express their feelings and to grieve.  You, the parent, may be inclined to avoid talking to your children about death.  You might believe that silence will spare your children a bit of the hurt and sadness.  However, it is actually healthier for children, as with adults, to verbalize their feelings.  Some children will ask questions, and some will not.  Do your best to encourage your children to talk about their feelings.  Answer their questions as simply and honestly as possible, giving them only as much information as they want.  It is important for the entire family to talk openly together, even if it is through tears.

The loss of a pet is often the first time a child encounters losing a loved one.  At first, a young child may think their pet is just sleeping or temporarily gone.  They may expect that their pet will eventually return, believing death to be a temporary condition.  Adults often do not realize how traumatic death is to a child because children do not express their emotions well.  Some children enter a period of clinginess that lasts a few weeks.  Other children withdraw into themselves or lash out in anger and frustration.  And certain children have difficulty concentrating in school.  Keeping the household routine as normal as possible will help, as will a great deal of patience, hugs and kisses.  Assure your child he/she is not to blame for the loss of their pet. When young children lose a pet, they may begin worrying about their own mortality and need reassurance from you that they will not also die soon.  Sometimes the loss of a pet triggers a concern in slightly older children about the possible death of their parents. They may become curious about death and its implications; you, the parent, should be ready to openly and honestly discuss the subject with them.  And allow your child to comfort you.  Consoling one another could bring your family closer in ways none of you could have expected.

After their pet passes, your child may find it therapeutic to create a keepsake of their pal.  Perhaps it could be suggested that the child draw a picture or create a collage with photos of the pet.  Your child may also want to have a funeral for the pet.  Such a ceremony is a fitting way to say goodbye.  Resist the urge to rush out and purchase a new pet to ease your child’s grief.  Allow your children a reasonable time to accept the loss.  Otherwise, your child may feel they are being disloyal to their departed friend.  And by no means should it be implied that grief and sadness over the death of a loved one can be simply overcome by replacing their deceased friend.

Surviving Pets Coping with Companion Loss

When a pet passes, other family pets feel the loss and grieve along with their humans.  These pets grew up together and shared a connection unlike any other.  They had a mutual heritage, a common language, and a joint affection for one another.  When one pet is suddenly taken away, the pet left behind senses that something is wrong, but it does not really know what has transpired.  The surviving pet may pace the floor or anxiously roam the house in search of its missing companion.  Loss of appetite and depression are not uncommon.
A little extra TLC will help to fill the void created by the sudden departure of your pet’s companion.  Do your best not to leave him or her alone for long periods of time.  Keeping a radio on when you are out can comfort your lonely pet until you return.  Taking your pet for walks in the fresh air or playing a lively game of fetch together can lessen stress and lift the spirits of you both.  In time, your pet will adjust to his or her new normal and your relationship may be stronger than ever.

Selecting a Final Resting Place

Deciding what to do with their pet’s remains is perhaps the most difficult decision for most people to make.  People are often unaware of the options, and their emotions of losing their pet make it difficult to choose.
The best time to make arrangements for your pet’s death is before it happens.  An increasing number of pet funeral directors are offering pre-need services to the public.  Advanced planning allows for the time needed to thoughtfully prepare for the final laying to rest of your beloved pet.
If you are faced with an immediate need, however, look in your local telephone book under Pet Cremation/Burial Services or ask your vet for a recommendation.

Caskets should be bought beforehand if possible.  If purchased online delivery times can take up to 5 days and express shipping is expensive because of their size and shape.  If you are planning on burying your pet in a pet cemetery you should check for any casket restrictions.  Pet caskets are available in many different styles and some come with pillow and blankets.  You can also have your casket custom made which will take some additional time. Be sure you know how to measure your prêt for the casket you select.
You may choose to have your pet cremated.  There is a wide selection of urns available for your pet.  Figurine urns are very popular for breed specific pets.  Wood and vase urns are also popular and most can be personalized.
Grave Markers should be able to withstand the elements so granite is best.  Granite pet grave markers are available in a variety of colors and are highly customizable with images and or epatates.

Examples of Epitaphs

Online Pet Memorials

One way to memorialize your beloved pet is to post an online pet memorial.  Sharing your memories or just to pay tribute can be helpful through the grieving process.  Selecting a meaningful image and meaningful text will be online for you to visit or share through social media with your friends and loved ones.

Pets-We-Love offers a free online memorial service

Pet Loss Poems

I have never read anyone’s thoughts on losing a pet, until I log one my own.  His name was “Dally” a very lovable Dalmatian.  He was stricken with bone cancer and we had put him to sleep.  That was a terrible day.  While grieving, a very unexpected amount of grief, I found some wonderful poems other had written or posted online, while they were feeling my very same feeling.  I have selected a few and they can be found on the following link Pet Loss Poems. 

Pet Loss Poems

Getting a New Pet

It is common to have mixed emotions after losing your pet.  You may yearn for the companionship of a new pet, but you may feel guilty replacing your departed friend.  The desire to give your love and affection to another creature is no reason to feel guilty.  Your deceased companion will always have a special place in your heart.

In Memory

Following are some wonderful and very helpful websites to help you through the grief of losing your beloved friend.

beloved cat beloved pet precious pet beloved dog


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Last Update January 2019
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