Losing a pet can be one of the most devastating experiences for animal lovers. We see them as our friends, and we hope for them to live forever.
Sadly, dogs live for less time than humans, and depending on the breed, it can be a short but beautiful friendship.
You loved your dog, and now he is gone. If you cannot stop crying or cope with your feelings, we have the guide for you.
Why Does Pet Loss Hurt So Much?
Our pets are not just a dog or an animal; they are members of our families. They are the ones we hug when we feel lonely and the ones we talk to when we need company.
They bring joy to our lives and give us a sense of meaning, as we are responsible for their health and happiness.
When a pet dies, it is typical to feel lost and full of grief. It is as if an essential part of your life is gone, and now you have to keep going on without it. It can be overwhelming, and like everything in life, it can be too much to do alone.
Don't ever feel guilty for grieving the loss of a furry friend. We all react differently to loss, and not everyone can get over it at the same rate as others. For some, it can take a week or a month at most, but for others, it can be years before feeling at peace again.
It all depends on your personality and how close you were to your pet. The circumstances of the death are another factor to take into consideration. A pet dying of old age can be easier to cope with than if it had been an accident or related to a disease.
If it was an emotional support dog, a service animal, or a working dog, then you've lost more than just a pet. Losing your independence, an active companion, and the source of stability in your life can be a lot to take on simultaneously. If that is the case, you'll need to avoid being alone for a while.
The Grieving Process
The process of grieving is different for every person. Each stage of the process can take days, weeks, or months, depending on your personality. It also depends on how close you were with your dog.
Here's what you need to understand this critical process:
It is a gradual process: As mentioned before, the grieving process can take as much time as it needs. If you have a strong personality, then the process will be shorter. If you are a melancholic person, then the process will take longer.
You can rush the process or allow it to develop gradually, but you cannot skip it. Grieving is an essential part of the loss, and it is the only way one can naturally heal.
It is normal to feel it: Grief is the process of getting over the loss of something or someone important to you. It doesn't matter if it is a divorce, the loss of a parent, a friend, or a pet. It will come to you, and you shouldn't be ashamed of it.
Feeling sad for losing your pet does not make you any weaker. It only shows that you deeply care about your dog, and that's something to be proud of. So, allow yourself to feel sad and grieve.
Denying your pain will only make things worse: If you want to heal, you need to experience grieving, and you need to let it unfold naturally. Denying your pain will only make it worse, and it will make it harder for you to heal.
6 Ways For Getting Over the Loss of a Pet as an Adult
Losing a pet is different for everyone. It affects you differently depending on which stage of life you are in. Here are some ideas of things you can do to get over your pet's loss if you are an adult.
Do not be ashamed about how you feel. You need to let yourself feel every stage of the grieving process. Cry it out alone or with someone special. You can write about it in a journal, or just take some time each day to reassure your feelings.
You can watch a movie related to the topic and cry as hard as you possibly can while watching it. It is essential to understand that feeling sad is part of the loss process, and it is necessary to feel sad to heal.
Seek Friends That Can Share Your Pain
Talk with others that are passing through the same situation. The mere act of talking about it will help you cope with the pain.
It is important not to keep your suffering to yourself, and if you can't find anyone to talk about it with, write it down.
Write letters for your pet, and keep them in a special place. Writing your feelings down will help you understand them better. With time, it will allow you to move on.
Allow Yourself to Say Goodbye
Sometimes it is necessary to say goodbye, and the loss of a significant person or pet is one of those times. Make a funeral, write a goodbye song or poem, or say a eulogy for your animal friend.
Saying goodbye is one of the first steps for moving on. You'll notice that you feel different after it, and from then on, it will be easier.
Allow Yourself to Remember
You don't have to forget them. Allow yourself to remember the good and the bad. Allow yourself to think about it from time to time. If necessary, give yourself a specific time to just think about your pet and everything it meant for you.
Do Not Lose Your Routine
It is easy to give up on hobbies and responsibilities when going through a grieving process. If possible, keep yourself in a routine. Do your chores, your work, and spend time with your family and loved ones.
Seek Professional Help
If you find it impossible to cope with the feeling of loss, we recommend a professional's help. They will listen to you and will do anything they can to help.
5 Ways For Helping a Kid Get Over the Loss of a Pet
If you have kids, and your kids have recently suffered the loss of a pet, you might need the following tips to help them cope with it.
It might seem redundant and easy, but many people forget that talking about something they feel can do wonders for their mental health. It might be because of shame or fear, but many people prefer to keep things to themselves.
Kids, however, do not know concepts like shame yet. If they want to talk, then listen to them. Share your feelings with them. Even if they don't understand everything, they'll learn to cope with their emotions by watching you cope with yours.
Help them feel proud of their love for their pets. Let them feel proud of their compassion and other emotions. They will grow up to be emotionally mature grown-ups.
Help Them Understand
Kids are smart, and sometimes it is easy to forget they are just kids. It is your responsibility to help them understand what happened. You should reassure them that it was not their fault and that death is only another part of life.
Keep Your Kid Involved
If your kid wants to be involved in the process, then allow them. Let them help you with the funeral or ceremony, and take the time to teach them about responsibilities while you are it.
It might seem like something too strong for them, but they must move on also.
Allow Your Kid to Say Goodbye and to Remember
Let them say goodbye as if it was a family member because it was for them. Use the funeral as an opportunity to help your kids say what they feel without being ashamed of it. If possible, make a memorial or print a family picture with the pet. It will help them remember the right moments.
Do Not Rush Getting a Replacement
Many parents believe that the best thing to do is to get a new pet for their kids. They think that a new pet will magically make them feel happy again, but that's not the right thing to do in a loss situation.
Feelings must be felt to heal and for humans to learn how to control them and cope with them. Avoiding feeling sad because of the loss of a pet will lead to severe complications further in life.
Do not rush the process, and let them tell you when they are ready to move on.
3 Ways For Getting Over the Loss of a Pet as a Senior Citizen
Losing a pet as a senior citizen can be as heartbreaking as losing a pet as a child or even more.
It is challenging because of the time given to the pet and the loss of a source of meaning. Here are some tips to help you or your loved one deal with the loss of a pet.
Don't Lose Contact With Friends and Family
It is imperative for senior citizens to feel valued, and a pet is a great way to achieve this. They give a sense of responsibility and meaning, which simultaneously fights the possibility of depression or apathy.
Losing that sort of meaning can be devastating, leading to many complications for older people. If that has happened to you, then remember that loneliness will only make things worse.
Keep in contact with your family and friends, and if it happens to a loved one, keep them company. Talk with them, share your feelings, or just enjoy their company. It sounds easy and straightforward, but it helps immensely.
Do Some Exercise and Stay Active
If you have gone through the loss of a pet recently, keep yourself active. Go for a walk or do some swimming if you can. Allow yourself to be involved, and that way, your mind will be occupied with something else.
Join a trekking group, go for long walks with some friends, or simply do some yoga. Do anything you can and be constant.
Find Another Source of Meaning
Your pet was the reason you woke up every morning feeling happy. It gave you a responsibility, your pet needed you, and sometimes feeling needed is enough to make us smile.
But now your pet is gone, and you feel like there is nothing you can do to feel better.
If you feel that way, then we recommend you join some volunteer groups. Help your community, or help one person. Supporting them will bring back that feeling of responsibility and being needed.
You can also start some new hobbies, like painting or gardening. The act of learning and improving at something can also bring some meaning back to your life.
Getting Another Pet After the Grieving Process
Nothing will replace your pet, and it is not a matter of finding another to fill that void. If you feel like you've grieved enough and it's time to move on, then maybe consider getting a new furry friend.
It doesn't have to be a dog or a cat, or the same animal. It doesn't need to be the same breed or have the same personality. It is not a matter of replacing, but of giving another lucky pet the joy of your company.
If you feel that you are not ready yet, then don't rush it. Go volunteer in an animal rescue place. It will help you decide if you are prepared and when. Until then, you can always give love to the dogs at the shelter.
When to Seek Help?
Grieving is a normal process, and feeling sad is nothing to be ashamed of. But there is a point when grieving becomes unhealthy, and it is vital to recognize that point. If you feel like you've been crying forever and it won't stop, then pay attention to the following.
There is no definition of normal grief: People will expect you to get over it after a week or a month. They mean you no harm, but they don't want to see you in a constant state of sadness.
It is essential to understand that there is not a typical kind of grieving. It will take time, and it will depend on your personality, your bond with your pet, and even your age. However, grief can also be unhealthy.
Seek help if you notice the following:
- Excessive lack of energy: It's been a week, and you cannot find the strength to get out of bed or study or even work. If this is the case, seek professional help. Otherwise, it will keep affecting your life and have many negative consequences.
- Lack of appetite and weight loss: Eating makes you feel sick or nauseous, and you are eating less with each day that passes. People tell you that you are getting thinner, and you can start noticing when your clothes feel baggy.
- Self-hatred and harmful thoughts: Grief is now starting to affect your mental health, and if that's the case, then you'll need the help of a professional. They will listen to you and guide you so that you can start healing.
- Drinking and self-harming: Many people believe that it is impossible to heal at this stage, but it is not. It is harder to seek help or believe that you are worth helping, but it is still possible and necessary.
If you are passing through this, then it is essential to look for support and help. The grief is affecting your physical health now, and it won't stop there. Looking for help can be challenging, but it is necessary.
Talk with your friends and family, and explain your situation. If you cannot talk to anyone else, then seek a professional.
Either way, you must understand that doing it alone will not solve anything. You are stronger when you allow others to support you.
Getting over the loss of a pet is hard and painful, but it is not impossible. It will take time, and it will take tears and effort, but in time you'll heal.
Allow yourself to feel every step of the grieving process, and keep yourself healthy and in touch with family and friends.
Don't give up on hobbies or outside activities, and keep yourself busy with important things. If you need to cry it out, do it without shame. Get a hug from a loved one, and talk about your loss with people going through the same experience.
You will never forget your time with your pet, and you don't have to. You'll never be able to replace your pet, and you don't need to.
Feel it, share it, and keep it in your heart. With time, you'll be able to remember all the good things and bad things, and you will smile.