Loving a pet is one of the best experiences life has to offer, and losing a pet is one of the worse. Regardless of how prepared we are in our heads, the loss whether sudden or over time is heart breaking. Here are 4 things you can do to cope.
Cry—There’s no question you’ll do this a lot. Don’t be hard on yourself about this, and don’t even think about trying not to cry. Tears are cleansing both physically and emotionally. So do cry when you feel like it.. Anyone who has lost a pet or anyone dear will certainly understand and empathize with the deep emotional attachment that has been transformed by death. Even death can’t cut you off completely from your pet..
My 9-year old daughter made an excellent point this week when our 12 year old Golden Retriever died. She said, “Even though Carson is not with us, we will always carry him in our hearts.” Then she looked up at me and asked why she was suddenly sounding like me.
Your pet will always be a part of you, and even though you can no longer see it, it will forever live through your memories. It may not seem like much now, but they don’t say time heals all wounds without good reason.
Laugh—Laughing releases endorphines in the brain which ease tension, help us relax, and make us feel happier. Even in the midst of the pain, it’s probably really easy to remember funny stories. Let them bubble to the top and help you feel better even if it’s only temporary. Laughing and sharing memories with others is so helpful right now, so do it often..
Connect with your friends. Ask them to remember funny stories about your pet and send them to you. Make a memory book with these stories and pictures. This alone with help keep death from erasing our precious memories over time. Having a scrapbook that keeps the memories fresh is a great way to hang on to precious memories.
My mother-in-law would often share stories about her childhood dog, Buddy. No matter how many times she told the story about the dog swiping the candy bar and leaving the paper in an obvious place, she laughed just as hard.. So even though her dog had been dead for almost 60 years, his memory lives on through us.
Talk With Other Pet Owners—These are people who know what it is to love a pet and to lose one. They are probably only too happy to share coping ideas that worked and ones didn’t work. And the best part is that if they haven’t already experienced it, they know that at some point they will.
This is also true for people who care about you and know how important the relationship with your pet was. They will usually listen patiently because they feel that it is the only thing they can do to help.
On a day when everything was reminding me of my Golden who had just died, I asked my friend if he was tired of hearing me talk about Carson. He immediately replied no and said Carson was a part of me and always would be. The gift of listening is one of the nicest gifts another person can give at a time of loss.
Adopt A Shelter Friend—Sometimes the mere thought of loving another animal seems disloyal, somehow a betrayal of the love we felt for our friend who is gone. The truth is that our hearts have an unlimited capacity for love, and loving another pet in no way diminishes the love that we felt and will continue to feel for the one who has left us.
So I will end with a cliche. But having been through it three times now, I can say with confidence that time will indeed make it better; not all better, just better.