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DEALING WITH THE LOSS OF A PET AND GRIEF RECOVERY

 

As a society we know that death is a certainty. When the death that occurs is a spouse, family member or close friend it is very natural to feel sorrow, express grief, and then expect family and friends to provide comfort. The same does not always hold true if the death that has occurred is that of a beloved pet. The pet owner may experience the same feelings of loss, but in turn encounter much less support. People love their pets and some of them consider them an immediate family member.

We know that pets provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love during the years they share with you. If you understand and accept the bond, you can take the first steps toward coping with the loss by knowing it is okay to grieve the loss. The next step is to understand how the grieving process works and then find ways to cope with the loss so it can bring you closer to the day when the memories bring happy thoughts instead of tears and sorrow.

The grief process is different for everyone and can last for days, months or even years, and again, is perfectly normal. It sometimes begins with denial or anger and may be directed at anyone involved, including family, friends, or veterinarians. You may also feel a sense of guilt about what you did or did not do, which can and will delay coming to terms with the loss.

When these first stages end, you may even become withdrawn or depressed, but true healing begins when you accept the loss and remember your pet with less sadness. It has also has been shown that when grief is outwardly expressed, the time needed for healing is far less lengthy.

When the loss of a family pet occurs and children are involved, it is important to remember that they can be far more sensitive than an adult. They may blame themselves or parents for not saving the pet. They may feel guilt, depression or even frightened that others they love may be taken from them, so it is best to console first, find out what the are thinking and feeling and then alleviate their concerns.

Never try to protect a child by saying the pet ran away. This causes your child to expect the pet to return, or even wonder what they did to make it leave. This will extend the grief period for them and make it impossible to accept a new pet in the future, because they may believe that loving a new pet would be a betrayal to their old pet or that their old pet may one day return.


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If you had to put the pet to sleep, make sure your child understands the difference between ordinary sleep and death, or you risk the child themselves being fearful of going to sleep and not waking up. Make it clear that the pet will not wake up, but that they are happy and free of any pain.

Expressing your own grief with your child during this difficult time will not only reassure them that feeling sad is okay but also help them work through their personal feelings.

It is also extremely important during the grieving process to find a way to say goodbye and remember your pet. There are a number of things you can do including writing about your memories and shared experiences, or even putting together an album of memories which allow everyone in the family to remember the happy memories spent with your pet.

Providing a special place for your pet's ashes has also been shown to help those with trouble saying goodbye which will speed up the recovery process for both children and adults.

 

About the Author:

Duane Cooper is a major contributor to the Pet Memorial Urns Online network and pet owner. For further information on how to deal with the loss of a pet or pet urns to provide the perfect final resting place, please visit Pet Memorial Urns Online.

 

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