Losing Your Best Pet Friend
Recently, I lost my furry best heart friend of 19 years. Although he was very old and I knew the end was coming, the loss still hit me harder than I anticipated. My pet has always been one of my strongest sources of support, loving me unconditionally and without judgment. Losing a pet is like losing a family member who has been with me through the ups and downs of life. As I embarked on the grieving process, I started to evaluate how to weather the storm and come out on the other side with acceptance. If you have also lost a pet, my heart goes out to you. I’ve put here some tips that I hope will help you cope with this trying time.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
You don’t need to act like you’re okay when you’re not. You don’t need to explain or justify your grief to anyone, especially your friends. Sometimes, people who do not understand the grief might minimize it by saying comments like, “It was just a pet” or “You need to get over it.” While people, especially loved ones, might be trying to help, these comments can cut deeply. Your pet was one of your closest and most steady relationships. In fact, one study showed that people more highly value their relationships with their dogs than a lot of familial relationships. One of the first steps is to recognize that what you’re going through is real, pure, and deep grief. By accepting that you have genuine and legitimate sorrow, you can start to move forward in the grieving process.
Remember Happy Times
Although it may seem counterintuitive after accepting that you have a severe and deep loss, one of the most helpful steps in grief is celebrating the best memories instead of being weighed down by the hardest ones. Instead of focusing on the troubling parts of the end of your pet’s life, try to focus on the wonderful lives you lived together. Dwelling on the sadness can prolong your grieving process and neglects to hone in on the true joy that you both experienced together.
Follow Your Regular Routine
Let’s face it – we often build our lives and routines around our pets. Maybe you used to wake up and walk your dog first thing in the morning. Or maybe your dog joined you on your evening jog in the park. Carrying on routine when you lose a pet may be extremely hard, especially as it might feel like a constant reminder of your loss. However, maintaining a routine and exercise are vital parts of mental health. Moving and exercise can actually help release tension and build moral. More than any other time, having physical balance and peace is important so that you don’t add extra stress to what you’re processing.
Seek A Community
In any time of trial, one of the best things we can do is turn to an understanding community. Only other bereaved pet owners will be able to understand your grief and sadness in it’s own particular way. Isolation during hardship can often make the grief worse, so finding support and like-minded individuals can bring a lot of comfort. Get in touch with other bereaved pet owners in your region so that you can fill your life with people who can relate to your perspective and share stories
Get Help from Professionals
Always remember that people grieve in different ways and there is no right way. Many physical and emotional parts of grief reflect those of depression. Keep in mind that grief can become a trigger for depression. If you start blaming yourself, have difficulty doing your day-to-day tasks, abandon the activities that used to bring you joy, or isolate yourself from people you used to enjoy and rely on, you should consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. You never ever have to go through this alone.
I hope these coping strategies help you to grieve in a healthy way over the loss of your pets. Knowing that grief, I send you all the deepest sympathy for your loss. The beauty of each pet being so unique and special makes it extra challenging to say goodbye and let go. But their memory and love will always live on in our hearts.