Anyone who has lost a pet will relate to how painful the loss is.
One aspect that can make grieving for the loss of a pet so difficult is that pet loss is not appreciated by everyone. Some people assume that pet loss shouldn't hurt as much as human loss, or that it is somehow inappropriate to grieve for an animal. They may not understand because they don’t have a pet of their own, or because they are unable to appreciate the companionship and love that a pet can provide.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and never allow others to devalue your loss. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgement. Some people may not understand the depth of the feeling you had for your pet, so you should never feel guilty or ashamed about grieving for an animal friend.
Given the intense bond most people share with their animals, it’s natural to feel devastated by feelings of grief and sadness when a pet dies. You feel a significant, traumatic loss,because a pet is not “just a dog” or “just a cat.” ...you've lost friend and family member
Grief is a normal and natural response to death, but the level of grief depends on the role the animal played in a person's life. For example, if their pet was a working dog or a helper animal such as a guide dog, then they'll not only be grieving the loss of a companion, but also the loss of a co-worker or the loss of their independence. So their grief may be prolonged and more intense
People who grieve the loss of a beloved pet, are actually mourning several losses at the same time. These include:
The loss of unconditional love
Pets provide us with emotional responses that are uninhibited by concern for how their expression appears to others. Many of our human relationships aren't that simple .Pets do not judge insecurity or imperfection. They are all-accepting in ways few humans can achieve. They also allow us to express parts of ourselves that we may never let other humans see. They observe our weaknesses, our victories, and move through years of our lives with us
The loss of a family member
Having a pet is much like being a parent. You are responsible for another life and often go to great lengths to ensure your pet’s physical and emotional comfort. So numerous activities revolve around your pet's daily needs.
The loss of a primary companion
For some people their pet was the only social companion in the world. They may not have had any other close contacts, due perhaps to depression, anxiety, or a debilitating physical illness.They relied exclusively on their pet for support ,love, security, stability and comfort. Their pet may have been their sole companion, and taking care of the animal provided them with a sense of purpose and self-worth. So their grief will be deeper due to the potential loneliness. Coming to terms with the loss will be even harder as they likely grew to love him / her even more.
The loss of multiple activities and routines
You say goodbye to the physical activities such feeding time, walks , and all the aspects that made up your practical daily routines.
These goodbyes all contribute to the time and patience needed to grieve the loss of a pet.
Effective Coping Strategies
Be patient and kind with yourself
Your loss is real painful, and evoke a variety of feelings and memories. Remind yourself that your emotional processing has no set endpoint. You’re in mourning and by pressuring yourself, you only make yourself feel worse. Healthy grieving is getting “through ,” not over, a loss.
Look after yourself
The stress of losing a pet can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Look after your physical and emotional needs. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to release endorphins and help boost your mood.
Reach out others who have lost pets
They'll appreciate the magnitude of your loss, and understand what you're going through . They may be able to suggest ways of getting through the grieving process ; Check out websites such as : Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement; and the Pet Loss Grief Support , which has chat rooms , message boards , and online memorial services.
Try to find new meaning and joy in life
Caring for a pet previously occupied your time and boosted your morale and optimism. Try to fill that time by volunteering, picking up a long-neglected hobby, taking a class, helping friends care for their pets, or even consider getting another pet when the time feels right.
Maintain your normal routine
If you have other pets, try to maintain your normal routine. Surviving pets can also experience loss when a pet dies, so main their daily routines. Even consider increasing their exercise and play times. This will benefit you and your surviving pets ,but may also help to elevate your outlook too.
Conduct an overview of your pet’s life
Write down your thoughts and feelings When did you get your pet? What are some special memories? What were his or her personality features? What will you miss the most? This overview helps solidify the things you want to make sure not to forget.
Celebrate the life of your pet
A lot of people gain comfort in keeping keep mementos like keeping his/her food bowl, bed, or blankets, framing photos. Put your pet’s tag on your keychain.
Memorialise your pet
Planting a tree in memory of your pet,or sow a garden ; compile a photo album or scrapbook, or otherwise sharing the memories you enjoyed with your pet, this can create a legacy to celebrate the life of your animal companion. Remembering the fun and love you shared with your pet can help you to eventually move on. These can be living tributes that will continue as reminders for years to come.
Create your own rituals for your pet
Rituals can help healing. Humans have prescribed ways to mourn. We have funerals, ceremonies, and anniversaries of the beloved’s death acknowledged. These rites are designed to help us grieve and to remember a loved one. Have a ceremony by holding a service at home or in a place special to you and your pet .Some people have their pet buried in an animal cemetery.
Ignore people who think it’s inappropriate to hold a funeral for a pet.It is up to the grieving person what they choose to do, whatever you feel allows you to honour that unique friendship in a way that feels right for you.
Some people suffer from "complicated " grief .This is when their grief is prolonged and persistent that it Interferes with their ability to function. This can often be due an overwhelming feeling of guilt due to the circumstances surrounding their pets death.
Guilt is the primary stumbling block to a healthy grieving process.If your pet died in a way you perceive could have been avoided, the duration and severity of guilt can be intensified. “I should have closed that door or gate properly ,so s/he couldn't run into the street” or “I wish I had noticed her/his symptoms sooner, because s/he’d be alive today if I had.” Such comments only serve to punish you even further.
If you were unable to afford expensive veterinary treatment to prolong the life of your pet, you may even feel a profound sense of guilt.
Many of us are called upon to make the excruciating decision to end the life of a beloved pet. We spend our lives ensuring the health of our companion, and while euthanasia may end our pet’s suffering, it contradicts every instinct we have.
Grief is further complicated if you are plagued by doubt — was it really the right time? Was he really getting worse? Questions like these may never be answered. Furthermore, you are left with the image of your pet as he or she died, which can be overwhelming.
People sometimes wonder if there were routes not explored, medications not taken, surgeries not performed. If they were unsure about whether all options were exhausted, then residual guilt may hinder moving through grief effectively.
Seek help if you need it by contacting a reputable Grief Counselor.