Unfortunately, our pets just don’t live as long as we do. Our furry, feathery and scaley friends are like family to us, so when they pass on, it’s only natural we feel grief and sorrow.
While it’s important to let yourself experience any emotions you may have over the loss of your pet, it’s also important to cope with these feelings in a healthy way. Below are a few such ways you can go about making it through the grieving process:
- Give Yourself Time to Grieve
Although simple, this is something that many individuals forget after they’ve said goodbye to their pets. It’s the same with losing any other family member – there’s no set time limit for bereavement, so focus on taking as much time as you need to process your feelings.
- Write Out Your Feelings
Writing out your feelings on some paper or in a journal can help you process them. You can even include pictures or small reminders of your pet in this book if that’s something you feel would help with your grieving process. Another option is writing a letter – you can express gratitude for the memories you have with your pet as well as how you’re feeling.
- Talk to Others Who Have Gone Through the Same Experience
Whether it’s online or in your local community, there are several support groups out there where people who have lost their pets come together to provide each other support. This is an especially good option if most of the people in your life haven’t had pets or they aren’t sympathetic to your loss.
- Take Care of Yourself
Grieving is a taxing process – still, you should do your best to take care of both your physical and mental needs at the same time to make the process easier. That means eating regular, healthy meals and seeing your loved ones. If you’re finding you have no energy to cook or to leave your house, remember that eating anything is better than nothing and that a phone call to a friend is better than isolating yourself.
- Hold a Ceremony
Much like we hold celebrations of life for people, you can hold such a ceremony for your pet – one thing you could do is have your friends and family share their favourite memories and pictures of your pet. If your pet had a favourite human food, you could also make that a part of the ceremony.
Additionally, holding a ceremony gives a chance for everyone who was involved in your pet’s life to say goodbye.
- Volunteer At a Shelter
If you’re missing your animal friend but don’t feel like you’re ready for a new pet yet, volunteering at a shelter is one option you could explore. Spending time around other animals can help you feel less lonely, plus you’re giving back to the community as the same time. In the same branch of thought, you could also volunteer to foster animals if you’re not ready to make a commitment to a new pet yet.
- Talk to a Therapist or Grief Counsellor
If you’re finding that your grieving process has been difficult to navigate, seeking professional help may be an option worth considering. There are even professionals who specialize in the area of pet loss.
- Explain Your Pet’s Passing to Your Children
While it might be tempting to cover up the truth and say that your pet ran away or moved away, it may only complicate your child’s feelings and cause them to be hurt in the future. In simple terms, let your children know what happened to your family’s beloved pet and allow them to ask questions and let out their feelings.
- Maintain Your Daily Routines with Your Other Pets
While you may want to drop everything and mourn your pet all day long, that isn’t fair for your other pets. It’s very likely that your other pets will be affected by the loss – maintaining your daily routines will help keep you and your pets grounded and can be a source of comfort for you.
- Make a Memorial for Your pet
If your pet had a favourite tree or spot outside, making a small memorial site could be a great way to remember them by. Painted stones, statues or jewellery are all things you could place here to mark your pal’s favourite place.
About the author
Pearl Tsui is a writer for Rank-It.ca as well as a nursing student from Alberta, Canada. When she’s not writing or learning in a hospital, you can find her taking nature walks and feeding outdoor cats cat treats.