When a person you love dies, it's natural to feel sorrow, express grief and expect your friends and family to provide comfort and support. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen if the one who died was your companion animal.
Many consider grieving inappropriate for someone who has lost a pet, but nothing could be further from the truth. People love their pets and consider them members of their family. So when a pet dies, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your sorrow.
Many caregivers go through the various stages of grief, including denial, anger and bargaining. After these feelings subside, they experience true sadness or depression. Eventually, they accept the loss of their pet and remember them with decreasing sadness.
The grief process is as individual as the person - for one person it may last days, for another it may last months or even years. While grief is a personal experience, you need not face loss alone. Many forms of support are available.
Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:
- Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
- Don't hesitate to reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear.
- Write about your feelings, either in a journal or a poem.
- Call your local humane society to see whether it offers a pet loss support group.
- Ask your veterinarian or local animal shelter about available pet loss hotlines.
- Explore the Internet for support groups and coping information.
- Prepare a memorial for your pet.
In my situation, I received a great deal of support from my online network – Facebook friends, Twitter followers and the readers of Bunny’s Blog. It took about a month for me to work my way through the process. Although I’ll always miss BJC, I can now look at pictures of her and think about her without the overwhelming sadness I felt in the first few weeks.
If you have recently lost a beloved pet, give yourself time to grieve the loss and don’t be afraid to reach out for help from the people who surround you – both online and off.
Source: The Humane Society of the United States