Coping with the pain and grief of losing a pet you have cherished and taken care of for many years or even just a few months is difficult. This is because, over time, you have developed an emotional and affectionate bond with the pet, which makes it difficult to imagine going through your day without your trusty companion at your side. If you were accustomed to taking your dog for a walk around the park during summer, for instance, you would now have to find other activities to keep your mind engaged. If you are used to cuddling with your cat whilst reading a good book, you may feel lost without that.
Medical researchers are of the idea that the pain associated with pet loss can result in health conditions such as high blood pressure, stress, and depression. It is imperative to find ways of dealing with the pain to go through this rough patch fast. Here are some tested and proven tips on how to deal with pet loss:
Accept that The Pet is Gone
One of the challenges that pet owners face is accepting that the pet is no more. For instance, if you live alone, and the pet was your only companion, you need to acknowledge the fact that the pet has died and find other ways of keeping yourself company. It is also important to understand that the grief and sharp pain that you are currently feeling is perfectly normal and natural. Thousands of people from all across the globe are going through the same experience, so do not let yourself feel like you are alone. More importantly, do not let anyone, be it your friends or family members tell you that you are too sentimental or acting stupid. The bottom line is, the sooner you accept that the pet is gone, the faster you will be able to bounce back and move on with your life.
Focus on Other Things
It will take time to stop focusing on all of the fun and memorable moments that you spent with your pet. However, it is important that you try to focus your mind on other important aspects of your life, such as work, after laying the pet to rest. For example, you can take part in physical activities, such as yoga and jogging. Apart from relieving the pain and stress, these exercises will help to enhance blood circulation in your body, promote weight loss, and strengthen bones and joints. Note that stress is one of the leading causes of mental conditions such as memory loss, so the sooner you get rid of it, the better.
Find Ingenious Ways of Expressing your Feelings
There is no shortage of ideas that you can use to express your feelings and dear memories. For example, you can write poems, stories, letters, create a photo collage, or even a video to help you document the good times that you spent together with the pet. Whenever you feel saddened, you can always read the materials or watch the video, but make sure that you do not do that every day as that could make the process of getting over the pet even more challenging.
Talk to People
Talking to people about what you are currently going through has been proven scientifically to be one of the best ways of getting over stress and grief. Do not lock yourself in the house or try to hide the sadness inside yourself; instead, express it by talking to your close friends, family members, and colleagues. Most likely, they have gone through the same process in the past and can give you some additional secrets on how to deal with this situation in the best way.
This is related to the previous tip, but still very effective in helping one deal with pet loss. Trying to act cool, calm, and strong will not assist you in any way. Instead, talk to other people about what you are currently going through, and do not shy away from making them understand that you cared about the pet, and its demise was a great shock to you.
Do Not Neglect your Personal Wellness
It is very easy to neglect your health during this grieving period. Take care of your own health by eating healthy foods, participating in physical exercises, and getting plenty of sleep to avoid health complications. Sleeping for at least eight hours per day helps to rejuvenate the body and calms the brain.
Counselling is another way of getting rid of grief and sorrow. Check with your local hospital, church, or counsellor to receive support and professional advice. There are also some local humane societies that have special pet-loss support groups that you can join. If you decide to join such a support group, make sure that you contribute to the discussions and take part in the various activities that the team leader organises to get the expected results. It is also important to note that you need and deserve support just like anyone else in the society who has lost a dear companion.
Let us proceed and look at some tips on how to help your children, seniors, and other pets cope with the loss.
Caring for Children
The loss of a pet may be your child’s first experience with death. As a result, he or she could end up blaming himself, the veterinarian, or parents for not doing enough to save the pet. The guilt, depression and worry can affect his/her performance in school as well as his/her relationships with family members and immediate friends. One of the best ways of helping the child deal with the loss is by expressing your grief openly and reassuring him or her everything will be OK. Spending more time with the child can also help to dissolve the feelings and memories. Outdoor physical activities are also very useful in helping children get over the loss.
Caring for seniors
Coping with pet loss is an uphill task for the elderly, especially those who live alone. They may feel lonely and the inner emptiness can compromise their health and wellness. The pet’s death can trigger painful memories, and so it is imperative to take calculated decisions when trying to help them deal with the loss. If you decide to get another pet, the possibility that it may outlive the caregiver and the fact that its health will be directly dependent on the person’s financial ability and physical health will come into play.
The best ways of caring for seniors who are having difficulties with grieving during this period is by hiring a counsellor or helping him or her join a support group. If you are a senior, spending more with family members, friends, and working as a volunteer at a local humane society will relieve your stress and help you regain a sense of purpose.
Caring for Other Pets
Believe it or not, the other pets in the house have feelings too, and may whimper, refuse to drink or eat, and suffer from lethargy once they realise that one of their companions is gone. Even if they were not best friends, the change could affect them emotionally. Also, your current emotional state can distress them. Based on these facts, it is recommended to try to maintain the normal routine and give them a lot of TLC. Doing so will help to suppress the harsh feelings and promote their health.
Getting Another Pet
Most homeowners rush to get another a new pet thinking that doing so will help them and the other pets in the house to move on faster. However, pet experts are of the idea that it is important to give yourself and the surviving pets’ ample time to grieve and go through the pain before attempting to build a relationship with a new pet. Children whose attachment and emotions are still not under control might feel that getting a new pet too quickly is disloyal and disrespectful to the deceased.
Only get a new pet when you have overcome your feelings and know that you can give the pet the care and attention that it deserves. You should also try not to make comparisons between the old pet and the new one. That is to mean; you should not expect the new pet to behave and act like the one that died. Understand that each pet has his or her unique personality and cannot perfectly take the place of the previous one.
Give yourself time to get used to the new pet, make new habits, and create new memories. This new pet will quickly fill your heart with love, just like your other pet did. Though you should never forget the pet who died, this new pet will need you, too, so make sure to give them the attention and love that they need and deserve.