Pets form an important part of our lives and we share a profound bond with them. Thus, losing them can be a painful experience for any pet parent. Research shows that the grief we feel from the loss of a pet is as intense as that of a family member. Considering that around 84% of parents consider their pets to be family members, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pets shower us with a lot of unconditional love, hence having to part with them can be a traumatic experience.
Understanding The Grief At The Loss Of A Pet
At first, it may seem an overwhelming experience to lose a pet. Not many people will be capable of understanding the difficult emotional state of your mind or the depth of feelings you may have had for your pet. What’s important here is not to feel guilty or ashamed about your feelings.
There may be some people who wouldn’t know how to help and may inadvertently say something painful like “It was just a pet”. However, if that is the case, don’t let it affect you. There are a lot of people out there who understand your pain. Pets become such an indispensable part of our lives that we love them just like a family. So it’s extremely normal to feel sorrow at the loss. Everyone responds differently to grief.
The Grieving Process
Grieving is a personal and individual process. It can come in several stages characterized by various emotions such as denial, guilt, anger, depression, and finally acceptance. For some, the grief can come in waves, with a series of highs and lows. In these times, any memory, sight or sound can act as a trigger.
Here are a few things you can keep in mind during the grieving process:
- It’s important to be patient during your grieving process. You can’t rush to be over with your grieving period or expect your grief to come soon. Some grieve for months while for some, the process can last a year. You must be patient and give way to the natural process.
- Don’t try to hide your feelings or be guilty or ashamed of them. It’s a common thing to mourn for your loved one and feel sad or shocked.
- It’s important not to restrict or stop your feelings. The best way to deal with grief is to face it. Bottling up your feelings will only worsen things in the long-run.
6 Ways To Help You Heal From The Loss Of A Pet
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Everyone has their own way of grieving and coping with the experience. If you are struggling, there are several healthy ways to cope with sadness and grief:
Keep Some Time Out For Grieving
The loss of a pet will create a surge of emotions that you’ll need to deal with. Here you’ll need to set some time aside to grieve and try to accept the loss. Being patient and not rushing it will help you in overcoming your sadness soon. If you try to immediately go back to your normal life, it may keep some of your inner feelings unacknowledged. So if you think you need it, then you can take a break from your usual life to address your emotions.
Reflect On The Bond You Shared
Active reflection can lead to an effective resolution of your grief. However, active reflection is incomplete without expression. You can start by reflecting on the bond you shared and recollect the memories of the good times you spent together. By reflecting on the positive memories, you can transform your pain for their loss into gratitude for the moments spent. However, you shouldn’t use this option to completely avoid experiencing any grief. The grieving process can’t be excluded or rushed and needs to run its course while you reach a point of acceptance and gratitude.
Meet Your Basic Needs
Make sure that you don’t stop your daily activities. As your mind will try to make sense of the experience, sleep might get affected. Some people may tend to oversleep while some others may find it difficult to fall asleep. Similarly, it can adversely affect your appetite as well. Grieving can be an extremely exhausting process. During this time, it’s important for you to have a nutritious diet and follow a sleep schedule.
Resort To A Calming Routine
To dissipate your feeling of grief, you can resort to a calming practice. It’ll help you deal with the grief better. Meditation, breathing exercises, and mindful eating are some of the calming activities you can choose to stabilize your life.
Memorialize Your Pet
A formal goodbye can be a good way to come to terms with your sadness and move towards acceptance. Most often, not getting a chance to say goodbye can create a void and memorializing can help you in gaining closure. There is no right or wrong way to memorialize your pet. Some of the ways in which your pets can keep living in your hearts are:
- Keep a special set aside for your pet’s things such as their collar, photos, etc.
- Get a plaque made with their picture and name
- Plant a tree in memory of them
- Give a formal funeral
An important thing to remember during this time is that you don’t need to go through this period alone. Although grief can be an individual process, sharing grief can often be cathartic. When you have people around who understand your pain, it becomes even easier to deal with it. You can first reach out to your friends or relatives and share your feelings with them. You can also take the help of professionals in helping you to deal with your troubles. You may also seek social media groups, online forums or even physical support groups for active sharing of your feelings.
Losing a pet can be an extremely tough experience for many. Dealing with the grief and slowly reaching a stage of acceptance is the way to move towards a stable and happy life.