Coping with pet loss
The pain of pet bereavement
When someone dies, it is natural to experience feelings of loss and sadness. When someone is grieving over the loss of a relative they are helped in many ways. Friends offer support with soothing words that help people get over the death of a loved one.
But when it comes to pets or the loss of a pet, you don’t get that kind of support. Unfortunately the loss of a pet is not considered a big deal; and you may find yourself hearing insensitive suggestions to just ‘get a new pet’.
People who own pets love them unconditionally and consider them as a part of their families. We celebrate the birthdays of our animal friends, share feelings with them, rely on our pets for support and love, and even hold their pictures in our wallets.
So it is natural for us to undergo feelings of immense loss after a pet dies.
Grief comes in various stages and people experience all of these after the death of their pet.
Denial is the first stage, which causes pet owners to refuse to accept the loss of their pet. Anger, anxiety and guilt eventually follows denial, as you get more in tune with your feelings and start the journey towards acceptance of loss.
How a pet’s death can affect a child
When a child’s pet dies, they experience feelings of loss for the first time.
Most children feel angry and hurt and even blame themselves for the loss.
Instead of making up stories to cover for the loss, parents should be upfront about it and help their child through the bereavement process.
A parent who expresses his own sadness will help the child to express his feelings and come to terms with his grief.
The death of an older person’s animal
Older people who own pets have a hard time coping with this loss. Pets are a source of comfort and companionship for the elderly and the loss leaves them feeling empty and depressed. Getting a new pet is sometimes not a possibility, as the elderly have to think about the reality of caring for the animal, walking them if it is a dog, and the possibility of the pet outliving them.
Moreover, the financial and emotional burden of caring for a new pet is a huge decision and may leave many seniors alone in their confusion and grief. If an elderly person faces such a loss, family members should be extra supportive and console them with pet bereavement gifts.
These gifts can be pictures of the pet or anything that helps them relive the fond memories of their companions. The basic purpose of pet bereavement gifts is to make the elders feel better about the loss and come to terms with it in their own time.
Being open about your pet’s death
Sorrow and grief are natural outcomes of death, and you should not be embarrassed about your feelings.
You can reach out for support if their grief becomes overwhelming. There are a growing number of pet bereavement support groups that help owners deal with loss and provide methods to help lessen the pain they are going through. Pet bereavement forums provide a platform where you can share your experience of loss and help others in coping with similar feelings.