Adjusting to Life after the Loss of a Beloved Pet
Grieving over the loss of a much loved dog or cat can be incredibly difficult but there are many ways to help yourself cope with the pain. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings, as it is normal to grieve for a departed family member, human or animal. The memory of your beloved animal is with you for life, so at some level he or she is still with you. This, in itself is a bit of a comfort to me, after losing my cat, Blackie.
Talk to a pet grief hotline counselor
There are a variety of veterinary schools around the country who offer free counseling to anyone requesting it. Two that have been helpful to me here in the United States are Pet Loss Hotline at 509-335-5704 or Sheba Pet Loss Online at 615-724-0228. If you call them and get voicemail, leave your name and number and they will return your call. They handle calls from all over, so be patient if it takes a little time to get back to you.
Pet Loss Support Groups
Ask your veterinarian or your local chapter of the Humane Society or ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.) There is usually a group or two in your city, for fellowship and discussion with others who are going through the same unfortunate situation. Call and talk to the leader, to find out the time and dates of what usually is a monthly meeting. They are supportive and helpful during this hard time and afterwards, as they know it isn’t easy to lose a special, furry loved one.
Keep a diary
Writing out your feelings in a spiral notebook or diary, for your eyes only, can be cathartic and creative way to get those unsaid words out. Grief is like a roller coaster, it peaks and valleys in a merciless and unpredictable way. When you feel yourself on the downswing of this wave, get the feelings out, one way or another. Whichever way that is helpful, the most important thing is to express it. Writing is somehow comforting to me, during times of stress and sadness.
Do something that feels good or lifts the mood
Though keeping busy won’t erase pain, I know from trying myself, it does help in its own way. When really upset, I get out the old Hoover and if it isn’t moved, it gets vacuumed. For comic relief, my other cat, Beau loves to be vacuumed, and will plop himself down with his feet up, waiting his turn. Other ways to be busy are watching children’s’ movies or anything else upbeat and promotes relaxing. This means no heavy dramas, tear jerkers, slasher movies or violence. Be gentle with yourself during this period of time, as you heal.
Whatever you do, give yourself time, patience and don’t be hard on yourself. It’s easy to guilt trip; think of “what if” or to have regrets about circumstances leading up to the death of your pet. You did the best you could, given the resources you had. By providing your dog or cat with a loving and caring home, to the end, you did a good job. In time, the sun will come out again.
As I recover from the loss of my Blackie, his memory is with me throughout but the pain lessens little by little as the days and weeks go by. He is out of pain and in peace. Blackie was raised in love, and died peacefully with me at his side at an old age. It was a successful and happy life, one to celebrate and never, ever forget. Your pet, too, will not be forgotten. The love continues on. You will recover, just take it one day at a time.
Tags: Pet Loss , Death , Grief , Cat
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