Grappling with Grief: Losing a Beloved Pet

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Losing a pet is no doubt one of the most difficult things any animal lover can go through. For many of us, our pets are like members of the family, and the grief and sadness we feel when they pass away can be overwhelming. To complicate things, friends and family members may not always understand the intensity of our feelings. Grieving for a lost pet is normal, though, and there are a few pet loss tips you can follow to better understand and come to terms with your emotions.

Everyone Experiences Grief Differently

The individual grieving process is as unique as the people who experience it. While one person may feel sadness and loss, another may be overcome with anger, guilt or feelings of blame. Similarly, while one person may grieve for a few days and then feel a sense of acceptance, others may struggle with the loss for weeks or months. It’s important to allow yourself to experience the feelings of grief as they come to you.

Acknowledge That Others May Not Understand

You may encounter people that make statements like ‘it’s just a pet!’ Experts recommend that you don’t try to argue with their perspective and instead seek out other pet owners who will empathize with your feelings of loss. Another pet owner who has lost a beloved animal can provide a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear to talk to about your feelings.

Seek Out Support

Many animal shelters, humane societies and even churches offer support for pet owners during times of loss. If you feel overwhelmed by your grief for an extended period of time, you may want to consider speaking with a therapist or calling in to a pet loss hotline, where an expert can help you comprehend your complex emotions.

Honor Their Memory

Some pet owners may find it helpful to have a memorial service for their pet. This may serve as a welcome opportunity to express your grief and share happy memories with family and friends. You may also find it comforting to create a small memorial, plant a tree, frame a favorite photo, or honor your pet’s memory in some other way that feels right to you.

The most important thing to remember is that grief is a normal and even healthy response to the loss of a pet. Respond in a way that feels right to you, and don’t be afraid to seek out support from a compassionate friend or family member to help you cope.

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