Losing a pet is hard. Really, really hard. For many, losing a pet is losing a member of their family and the grief can be overwhelming.
9 Tips on How to Cope With Loss of a Pet
Losing a pet is heart breaking, and it can often be difficult for owners to cope with the empty spaced their beloved pet has left. However, there are some actions you can take to find comfort.
1. Surround Yourself With Other Pet Lovers
The grief of losing a pet can be compounded by the fact that some friends and family members may have trouble understanding your despair. Those who aren’t used to owning pets may fail to understand how upsetting losing a beloved pet can be.
While you’re grieving, surround yourself with people who can relate to your pain and don’t belittle you for pain. You don’t need to defend your grief to anyone.
2. Remember the Good Times
Have friends or family over for dinner and share your favorite memories about your pet. Talking about the wonderful times you’ve had with your pet can be very cathartic. In some cases, your pet’s death may have felt quite traumatic. Don’t be afraid to talk those tough memories, but try not to linger too much on those thoughts and instead remember the good times.
When my old family dog Benzy died, no one was home. For many months I tortured myself, wondering if he was scared and wishing I had been there. I played out so many alternative scenarios in my mind – if only I had driven home instead of spending the night at my friend’s house. If only I had charged my phone so that I could have received the message from my neighbor saying that my dog was acting strange.
Ultimately, these thoughts are not constructive and only make things more painful. Instead, try to focus on the good things. For example, I was able to take comfort in the fact that at least my dog died in our house where he was comfortable.
3. Create a Photo Book
You probably have many wonderful photos of your pet. Crafting a photo book about your pet’s happy life can be extremely cathartic. I used Shutterfly to create a photo book for my dog shortly after he died.
This provided the opportunity to go through old photos I hadn’t seen in ages. One unexpected result – I began to remember my dog’s whole life, rather than just his death. Benzy had gotten so old, and for years he was my old buddy. Looking through photos reminded me of how different he used to look before he went grey around the edges. I was reminded of how much he loved the beach, and how high he could jump for a Frisbee. Taking time to go through photos of your pet can help ensure that you remember your pet as how he or she really was, rather than focusing too much on those hard last days.
When your photo book ships, you’ll have a wonderful item that will forever remind you of your treasured years with your best friend.
Shutterfly is great for photo books, and with this link you should be able to get your first photo book for free!
4. Your Pet’s Pain is Over
In many situations, your pet may have been sick or very old before dying. Benzy was sixteen year old and had a lot of trouble getting around. He couldn’t get up and down stairs, and sometimes he would fall when walking. He could no longer do most of the activities he enjoyed. Honestly, I would have done anything to keep him around longer, but he was old and hurting from arthritis. I’m pretty sure many owners have experienced similar situations with their elderly, injured, or sick pets.
After death, your pet is no longer in pain or suffering. I believe my dog is somewhere where he can bound across beaches and roam around woods like a young dog again. No matter what you believe, take comfort in the fact that your pet is no longer in pain.
5. Purchase a Memorial Tribute
Many owners like to have a physical tribute to their dog – something they can see in their day to day life to remember their beloved friend.
You might consider purchasing a dog memorial tribute stone you can keep in your yard. I myself bought a charm in the shape of my dog from Etsy. I keep the charm on my keychain as a constant reminder of my love for my dog.
Some owners also choose to keep the remains of their pets in beautiful dog urns that can be kept as a loving tributes.
Another great memorial concept is Pet Perennials – they offer remembrance garden kits that allow you to create a lovely outdoor tribute that you can visit in your own yard. This gardening exercise can help with the grieving process and is a great activity for a family to do together.
6. Read Pet Loss Quotes
Owners who have lost a pet often find some comfort in reading poems and quotes about pet loss. These words can express feelings that are often difficult for us to articulate ourselves. We’ve got a nice collection of dog loss quotes you may find comforting.
7. Visit Dog Forums
Sometimes it helps to visit online forums where others discuss the loss of their own pets and how they felt. Reading forum threads dealing with pet loss can remind you that you are not alone in your suffering. Visit the Dogster “Saying Goodbye” section for advice about dealing with dog loss, and try Caster for dealing with cat loss.
8. Get Another Dog
Some owners find it helpful to get another dog after their first has passed.
There was a time where I did not understand this sentiment. I felt that my dog was so special to me and thought that getting a new dog after he died would be like replacing him. It didn’t seem right or respectful.
However, after losing my own dog, it made much more sense. Of course your pet will always be special and unique; they can never be replaced. However, I found that losing a dog left a gaping dog-shaped hole in my heart.
Looking out the window and into the backyard and not seeing my dog roaming around sent pangs to my heart. My home felt cold and foreign when there was no dog greeting me at the door. I had become accustomed to having a dog in my life. Being a dog owner was part of my identity, and suddenly I didn’t have a dog anymore.
Getting a new dog after losing your other dog simply helps you pass on all that dog adoration to a new furry friend.
9. Time Is The Ultimate Healer
It’s true what they say – time is the greatest healer of all. Next month it will be one year since my first dog died. Sometimes when I see a Doberman while walking around town, I’ll think about Benzy and get choked up. It still hurts and I’ll always miss him, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as those first months without your pet. I can promise you with the utmost confidence – it WILL get better.
Now the difficult memories surrounding his death have faded. Instead I now remember all the wonderful memories we had together. Those memories are still sad because my dog is no longer in my life, but I wouldn’t trade those good times for anything, and I bet you wouldn’t either.
Have you lost a beloved pet? How did you handle the loss of your friend? Share your story in the comments.