Dealing with the loss of a pet
One part of being a pet owner that no one wants to think about is the day when your pet has to be euthanized or dies of natural causes. Nonetheless, the reality is that this day will likely come. Therefore, it is a good idea to know how to cope with the loss and to know what you can do to get through your grief as smoothly as possible.
The Stages of Grief
No one wants to think about losing a pet. After all, for many of us, pets are an important part of our family. Therefore, when losing a pet, you will likely experience the same 5 stages of grief that are associated with losing human loved one. These stages include:
• Denial – Refusing to believe that this could happen to you or to your pet • Anger – Feeling mad that this should happen to you. • Bargaining – Believing your animal’s life could have been saved if you would have done something differently or had more time • Depression – Feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness or grief • Acceptance – Coming to terms with the loss of your pet
Just as with losing a human loved one, the rate at which you go through these stages will vary.
Moving Beyond the Grief
In order to help yourself move beyond the grief or to help your children cope with the grief of losing a pet, you might want to try any of the following:
• Take time to remember the pet • Provide closure to the loss • Obtain a new pet
When it comes to getting past the grief, many people try to find ways to forget about the pet. This is particularly true when parents try to get their children past the grief. In reality, you should take time to honor the life of the pet and to pay tribute to the relationship that you shared. It is not silly to feel sadness at the loss of a pet. After all, the pet brought something meaningful into your life and was a special member of your family.
Another way to help you and your child better cope with the loss is to find ways to bring closure to the loss. Something as simple as a burial or creating a memorial can help pay tribute to the life of the pet while also demonstrating the permanence of death. If a child was affected by the death of your pet, allowing him or her to participate in the burial or memorial ceremony will help bring the closure the child needs.
Whether or not you should get a new pet to replace the pet that was lost is a matter of personal choice. Some people are better off if they find a replacement pet right away, while others need to have more time to grief first. The important thing is to wait until you are ready, as getting a new pet too soon may cause you or your child to resent the pet. As a result, you will not form that special bond that humans and their beloved pets share.