The loss of a precious pet can be very painful. Pets are a special part of our families and a source of unconditional love.
When they die we tend to experience feelings much like those when we lose a human family member or friend. Understanding the grieving process and also knowing that it is both acceptable and often necessary to grieve for you pet will help you to process your feelings of loss and adapt to life without your pet
It is important to give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your pet. Grief is a process that is experienced differently by each person and at an individual pace. If you find your self "stuck" in any one phase, it may be helpful to seek counseling or the support of others who have experiecned the loss of a pet.
The grieving process may typically include the following stages:
A phase where your pet's death does not seem real to you.
You may lash out at family, God or the veterinarian, blaming others or yourself for your pet's death.
You may try to make a deal with God, the veterinarian or the universe in hopes of bringing your pet back.
As a reaction to the life change created by the loss, you may feel sad, hopeless, confused, guilty, drainted and helpless. All of these feelings are normal; however, if depression lingers, it may be helpful to seek professional help.
This occurs once the loss is integrated into your life. It does not mean forgetting about your pet.
Guilt and uncertainty are two of the most common emotions that people experience after the death of their pet. You may find yourself thinking continously about what you could have, should have or would have done to prevent or postpost your pet's death.
Some suggestions for coping with guilt include:
Finally, the day will come when the thoughts of your beloved pet will only bring you smiles.
Children grieve very differently than adults. A child's perception of death varies as a function of age, level of maturity, and personal experience. Understanding the level of emotional and cognitive development that your child possesses will be better enable you to explain what it means when pet dies and leaves home for whatever reason.
Using statements such "put to sleep" or "passed on" have very different meanings for children and can be confusing for them. To help your child understand the permanence of death and the frief involved with the loss, keep the following suggestion in mind:
It is clear by their actions that they do respond to the absense of their companions. You may see changes in their eating and sleeping habits, they might appear depressed, or may constantly search for their missing friend. Many will need time and extra attention from loving onwers to adjust to their new life. Try to keep their eating, sleeping and exercise schedule as regular as possible to help provide them as sense of stability during this difficult time. While we may not know the depth of their grief, we can help them get through the experience as they also help us.
Visit our list of pet loss support groups to help you and/or your family with the grieving process.