How to Cope with the Loss of a Pet

By Maya Marin

Pet owners frequently becomes as attached to their pets as they do human beings. When your pet dies, it can hurt so much that you just want to find a quick way to stop the pain and grief. However, understand that grieving takes time and occurs in different stages. The duration of each stage varies by the individual and must run its course. In the meantime you can take measures to cope more effectively with the loss.

Be Open About Your Feelings

Express your feelings honestly among family and friends. Many times people feel like they have to downplay their grief because it is an animal who has died and not a human being. Your pet was an important aspect of your life. She was your friend and confidant and maybe even the only living being who accepted and loved you unconditionally. Allow yourself to be angry or cry. Don’t let anyone make you feel silly for experiencing the pain of such a significant loss.

Memorialize Your Pet

Choose a way to memorialize your pet that will facilitate closure. You may find comfort in knowing your pet is buried under a favorite tree in your backyard, or you might opt to have her cremated and placed in an urn to keep indoors. There are also pet cemeteries for a more formal approach. Visit the grave site if it brings you comfort.

Connect With Others Who Are Also Grieving

Contact a pet loss support group where you live or on the Internet. Talking about your grief with someone experiencing the same loss will help you to deal with the emotions you are experiencing. As you work through the process, don’t be surprised if some days are better than others. For example, it is completely normal to walk into a room where your pet frequented and initially expect to see her. You might also accidentally call out her name. Forgive yourself for these natural lapses.

Take Time to Heal

Sort through all stages of grief before you consider getting another pet. Well-meaning friends may encourage you to replace the pet who has died to speed the mourning process. However, if you are not emotionally ready to forge a new pet relationship, you may not give the new pet the attention she deserves, and you may possibly end up resenting her presence. Wait until your heart has healed.

Many times, people form extra strong bonds with their pets if other areas of their lives are in turmoil. If you feel that you are not recovering at a healthy pace, visit a family therapist to deal with these underlying issues.

About the Author
Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004. She wrote a true-crime book published in 2010 and has two more underway. She also has a strong background in business, education and farm living. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.