We humans share an intense and deep bond with our pets. Most of us don’t consider our pet as an animal, but an integral and vital part of the family. With such deep rooted attachment comes great grief at the passing away of our beloved pets. Even the ruthless, cold-hearted Hitler, who had a German Shepherd named Blondi was distraught at the death of a pet canine.
The death of a pet leaves a void which can be hard to fill. The sorrow that follows is natural. It’s a traumatic experience which can be further impaired by the insensitivity of others towards your grief. If you are dependent on your pet as in the case of working or helper dogs, the passing away of your pet becomes all the more harder to digest and get over. The important thing to realize in this situation is that death, in all it’s infinite wisdom is inevitable and despite the technological advances we have made, we still are mere mortals and nowhere capable of playing God.
Grieving Is A Distinct Process
Grieving is a highly unique and gradual process and varies from individual to individual. Some people find it easy to cope with the loss and are able to get over it within a span of few weeks whereas others may take significantly longer. For some people, the first stage is denial which maybe followed by anger which can be misdirected at family or friends. Other’s may experience grief in cycles of highs and lows. Whatever maybe the grieving mechanism, time is ultimately the balm that helps appease the loss.
Coping With Grief
Despite the fact that the loss of your beloved animal may seem like the end of the world, it isn’t. Support is available in a variety of forms including counseling services, pet loss support hotlines, self help books and articles, local as well as online pet bereavement groups. Here are a number of tips to help you handle your loss better :-
- Acknowledge, accept and embrace your grief. Don’t be embarrassed to express it in the form of tears.
- Don’t be hesitant in approaching others for help. A brief internet search is all you need to become acquainted with numerous sources and self help groups.
- Your pet was an integral part of your family and deserves the proper rituals of a funeral. It will give you and your family an opportunity to mourn the passing away of your loved one.
- A memorial in the form of a tree, or compiling a photo album or scrapbook to remember those wonderful times is a healthy way of dealing with your sorrow.
Helping A Child Cope With Loss
Children often share a very strong bond with animals and the expiry of your pet may have a very profound impact on the young one. This may well be the first time your offspring observes the immediate effect of death and be directly affected by it. For someone who understands very little of what has transpired, the child maybe afraid of losing other loved ones and even blame himself or even you for the tragic loss. Here are some tips for helping a child cope with the loss of a pet :-
- Encourage your child to openly express their feelings at the loss of your pet. Make sure to grieve openly in front of the young ones. Don’t make your child feel ashamed or guilty for exhibiting their emotions.
- The most important thing is to ensure your child does not feel responsible for your pet’s death.
- If you are planning on a funeral, let your child be an active part of the ceremony.
- Don’t rush into buying a ‘replacement’ pet. The child may well assume that it’s okay to overcome the sorrow of losing a loved one by just getting a replacement.
Tips For Seniors To Cope With Pet Loss
Young adults might be able to cope with their grief by immersing themselves in work or by indulging themselves in the mind numbing monotony of daily routine. However, for senior citizens overcoming the loss of a pet maybe more difficult to deal with, especially for those living alone for whom the pet was a source of companionship and provided them with a sense of purpose and self worth. Here are some tips for seniors to overcome the loss of a pet :-
- Find a new purpose in life, whether it be picking up an old forgotten hobby, taking a class or even getting a new pet when the time feels right.
- Ensure that you stay in regular contact with friends. Join a club or take up an activity which requires daily interaction with people.
- Pets help you keep fit with all the walking around they require. It is critical that you don’t let your activity levels drop. Taking up a group exercise program maybe just what you need to get your mind off your loss.
Getting Another Pet
It might not be the best of ideas to get another pet immediately after the loss of the previous one. Give yourself time to grieve and wait till you are emotionally ready to share your life with another pet. However, retired seniors for whom nurturing an animal provided a sense of satisfaction and direction may consider getting themselves a new pet at an earlier stage.
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