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HOW CAN YOU COPE WITH THE LOSS OF A PET?

 

Have you recently experienced the tragic loss of pet? Taking it hard? It is perfectly understandable for you to be experiencing a serious grief over the death or loss of your beloved pet! And don't let anyone belittle your loss or take away your right to a fitting bereavement.

The loss of a beloved family pet can be devastating. In general, our society does not recognize the significance of pet loss or allow for a proper bereavement. You may even be embarrassed or uneasy about expressing your grief to others, and may end up feeling isolated and alone in your grief. When a pet dies, there are no formal and public rituals, like the funeral, where sorrow can be openly expressed and emotional support freely given. Since we don't know how to properly deal with pet loss grief, we usually suffer in silence.

You may be surprised at how sad and anguished you are when your pet dies. You may wonder if it is normal to be grieving so deeply over the loss of "just an animal". NO, you are not weird or abnormal. It is normal and healthy to mourn the loss of a deep love bond, whether with a human or an animal. You hurt deeply because you loved deeply! Your heavy grief shows that you have a big heart and much compassion. You should be proud, not ashamed or embarrassed. Look at it this way: you have lost a beloved family member and this deserves a proper bereavement.

Think now about your relationship with your lost pet. The love you received from him was different than that from humans. Your pet likely adored you! He was always there for you, never criticized you, never held grudges, and always forgave you, no matter what. Are there any humans in your life that have ever given to you this selflessly?

For all this love, your pet expected no more from you than a good belly rub or ear-scratching, right? Pets have a way of finding their way into your heart and soon become a true member of the family. Because your pet was a comforting presence in your intimate day-to-day life, he impacted your emotions more than you realize. This is why people suffer so at the loss of pet.

You also received tactile comfort from your pet; touching, stroking, and rubbing their fur. Petting an animal is great stress relief and enriches your life. The unconditional love your pet gave to you created a different and very strong emotional attachment, a comforting presence that is sure to missed heartily.


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Any bereavement, whether over an animal or human loss, is an individual thing. Some people take just a few weeks to sort out their grief, while others can take months or even years. The key is to not deny your grief. Let it be, experience it fully, and it will follow it's own natural course to a successful resolution. How to help the process? Seek out people who will let you express your grief. A warm, understanding and supportive listener can help tremendously. But be careful about who you choose to confide in; some people just don't take pet loss seriously. Follow the Pet Loss link below for more information and support from folks who do "get it".

Do NOT rush to get another pet anytime soon. Your beloved companion who died can never be "replaced". Each animal is different, with a unique personality and a special bond with it's owner that cannot be duplicated. Let your grief run it's course, let your bereavement resolve. You need to be ready emotionally to welcome a new animal into your life. Don't rush this. You should no more rush to the pet store to get a new pet than a bereaved husband should rush to a dating site to replace his beloved wife!

But when the time is right, do get another pet. Sure, you risk getting hurt again when your new pet dies, put it's worth the price, don't you think? Would you have foregone the joys of having and loving your lost pet just because you knew he would die one day? The act of bringing a new animal into your life shows courage, strength, and hope for the future. Your heart is big enough to eventually welcome another animal to your side, even if you ultimately must endure the loss of pet again.

 

About the Author:

Jennie Wright is a Registered Nurse and Certified Grief Counsellor who has worked for many years with critically ill and dying patients and their traumatized families. Grief has also touched her life personally, from both beloved human and pet losses. visit our Pet Loss page to access practical resources and a gentle place to meet with others who have lost beloved pets.

 

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