How To Cope With Losing a Pet
Losing a beloved pet can be an incredibly challenging and painful experience. Pets are often considered part of the family, and their unconditional love and companionship can make them an integral part of our lives.
When a pet passes away, it can leave a void in our hearts and our homes. Coping with the loss of a pet is a unique and personal journey that can take time and effort.
In this blog post, we'll explore some practical tips and strategies to help you cope with the loss of your Fluffy Friend.
Whether you've recently lost a pet or are preparing for the inevitable, this guide can provide the support and guidance you need to navigate this difficult time.
Why Losing a Pet Hurts
When it comes to our animal companions, it's natural to feel love.
Most of the time, a pet is more than "just a dog" or "just a cat." They are treasured family members who offer us friendship, joy, and devotion.
A pet can give your day structure and keep you engaged with others.
They also help you deal with life's obstacles and challenges and even give you a feeling of purpose.
Thus, it's common to experience overwhelming grief and loss after the death of a beloved pet.
The degree of grief you feel will depend on your age and personality, the age of your pet, and the reason for their death.
Still, everyone reacts to loss differently. Generally, the greater the emotional grief you experience, the more important your pet was to you.
The significance of your fur baby in your life may also have an effect.
For instance, if your pet was a service or therapy animal, you may also feel the loss of your emotional support.
Accepting loss can be particularly difficult if the pet was your sole companion. It's also common for you to feel guilty, especially if you think you could've done more.
Although losing a pet is an inevitable aspect of being a fur parent, there are healthy methods to deal with the sadness and grief. Of course, when the time is right, you might even be able to open your heart to another animal companion.
Related: How to Prepare for a new Family Member
The Grief Process
Grief is never black and white and doesn't traverse a straight path.
As a result, how you deal with the loss might differ from someone else's.
While every person's experience of grief is unique, a few universal feelings are connected to it.
Deep sadness and loss can trigger many other emotions, including guilt, loneliness, depression, and even self-criticism.
You might experience loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and pet-related obsessive thoughts.
Grief might result in panic attacks and nightmares if the passing was terrible.
Regardless of the feelings you experience following your furry companion's passing, keep in mind that they're natural, and you've nothing to be embarrassed about.
Hopefully, the intensity of your grief wanes with time.
Related: How I became a Better Dog Owner
Coping With Losing a Pet
While grief may differ between people, you don't have to go through your loss by yourself.
There are numerous ways to get help.
Pet loss support groups, hotlines, books, movies, and articles can help you overcome the pain.
Let’s look at some suggestions to help you cope with losing a pet:
- Recognize your pain and express it. Bottling up your emotions may make it harder for you in the long run.
- Don't be afraid to approach someone who can offer a sympathetic ear. You can discover a ton of resources online.
- In a journal, write a poem, an essay, or a short story to express your emotions.
- Make a memorial to honour your pet.
How to Help Children Cope
A child's first encounter with death can be due to the passing of a pet. The youngster may hold themselves, their parents, or the doctor responsible for the animal's demise.
Additionally, they could experience guilt, depression, and fear that they might lose the people they care about.
Telling children that the pet ran away may give them false hope, and they feel betrayed when they learn the truth.
By sharing your own loss, you can tell your child that being sad is normal and assist them in processing their emotions.
How to Help Seniors Cope
For older people, losing an animal companion can be especially difficult.
More often than not, seniors who live alone may experience a loss of meaning in life and a profound emptiness.
The passing of a pet might bring up painful memories of past losses and serve as a reminder of their own mortality.
Additionally, deciding whether to get another pet is challenging as it depends on the person's financial and physical capacity to care for a new companion.
Also, the new pet may outlive his senior parent.
If you're an older adult, trying to talk to your friends and family is crucial.
Call a pet loss helpline or help out at your neighbourhood humane organisation.
In this way, you might find relief amidst the loss.
How to Help Other Pets Cope
If your other pets shared a close link with the deceased fur baby, they may whimper, refuse food or water, and become lethargic.
Even if they weren't the closest of friends, your emotional state and the shifting circumstances can upset them.
Keep a regular schedule and show your canines or felines lots of love. You and your pets can benefit from a set routine and cuddles.
Should You Get Another Pet?
Rushing this choice is unfair to both you and your new pet. A new companion cannot replace the one you lost because every pet has a distinctive personality.
After allowing yourself time to heal, assessing your readiness, and paying great attention to your feelings, you'll know when it's time to adopt a new pet.
Whenever you’re ready, remember that your neighbourhood animal shelter or rescue is a fantastic place to discover your next special Fluffy Friend.
Related: What You Should Know Before Getting a Second Dog
Grieving over the loss of your beloved pet is natural. While you're grieving, look for ways to improve your life and continue to keep your pet’s memory in a special place in your heart.
We, your MrFluffyFriend family, know how much pain fur parents feel when dealing with a passing of a pet, being pet parents ourselves. Don’t worry; we’re here to listen if you need someone to talk to.
About the Author
As a fur parent, this blog post was the most difficult to write.
You see, I lost my adopted boy, Ringo, on September 5, 2021. He was 11.
The pain was incomparable, and the first month was the most difficult. My boyfriend and I had a hard time coping with the loss.
I rarely ate, I cried myself to sleep, I couldn’t function, and I was barely there.
I needed to remember him always.
I had his paw tattooed on my wrist, made a scrapbook filled with our happiest and saddest memories, kept all his stuff inside a special box, and talked to my friends and family about him—I did everything to keep my baby boy close.
Nearly three months after his passing, we adopted a new pup and named him Lennon. We would talk to Lennon about his big brother. Lennon always seemed to understand.
Nearly two years after his passing, I still cry about my Ringo and possibly never stop whenever I think of him.
Personally, I don't think pet owners fully move on… we just find ways to cope with losing a pet.
If you're going through the death of a pet, hang in there. We're here for you.
Lots of Love, Jeaninne
I honestly had more company and love from my Jack Russell, Buster, than I had from my husband. The wrong one up and died-though he did give me 13 wonderful years. It has been almost 3 years now, and I’m cautiously giving thought to another one….dog that is!
Thanks so much for your comment! I can definitely understand how special and meaningful the bond with your Jack Russell, Buster, was for you. Pets have a way of providing unconditional love and companionship that can sometimes surpass what we receive from human relationships. Losing Buster must have been a difficult experience, but it’s heartwarming to hear that he brought you 13 beautiful years. I hope that you’d find another FUR baby to keep you company!
XO, Jeaninne From Your MrFluffyFriend Team!
It’s been a year and eight months since my sweet Simon has been gone. 🥲 this was a very different situation, since his death was tragic. He got hit by a car, and my thoughts are that I wish we never got him….he’d still be alive. He was only four and he didn’t deserve this ending. They depend on us to protect and care for them just like our children. I’m having a difficult time forgiving myself, and rightly so. I’m taking things day by day, but continue to cry….there’s so many things that set me off. He was a wonderful playmate to my other dog and that’s also upsetting that he lost him. I have two older dogs and four cats. Simon was the life of our household. We can’t get anymore dogs, it’s too much now. Thanks for listening! 🙏🏻✌🏻
Thank you for taking the time to read the blog, and I appreciate you sharing your story about your lovely Simon. I’m so sorry to hear that his passing was due to an accident. Reading that broke my heart. :( I also had, and still have, so much guilt about my Ringo’s passing— the feeling of not having done enough for him even after all the years he spent with us. I’m sure that all your babies also miss Simon too! I truly hope that, in time, we’d be able to think about our fur babies without feeling so much pain.
Sending you love, Jeaninne From Your MrFluffyFriend Team!