How to Cope with the Loss of a Pet
Dudley was our pride & joy for sure! He is the gorgeous Pug on the left! This was a few months before we had to make that critical decision and I simply did not want to see him suffer anymore. We had to make the “hard” decision of letting him go in 2010. He was the most amazing pet and companion to my daughter Madison, as well as the entire family…… since she was a baby and we will NEVER forget him!
Once upon a time, pets were animals that were used for certain things. Today, however, they are our companions, friends, and true members of the family. Caring for an animal is good for the mind, body and soul and we love them for this. Unfortunately, however, pets tend to live much shorter lives than certain animals, which means that we inevitably have to deal with the grief of losing them
The Death of an Animal
Every person grieves for their lost pet uniquely, just as we do for any other family member. We often feel guilty, sadness, hurt, pain, anger, numbness, disbelief, and shock. Additionally, it changes our lives. We suddenly no longer have to feed and walk our pets or care for them. We are no longer members of the dog walking club, and the relationship with our vet changes as well. As you can see on webvets.com, vets are used to this and won’t blame you, but it still feels horrible.
Another thing that makes losing a pet so difficult is that, in many cases, the owner has to choose their death. Because the life of the pet is no longer of any consistent quality, we are given the choice of ‘putting them down’. While choosing euthanasia is never an easy decision, but almost inevitably the right decision, we often do feel guilty and responsible for taking the life of our pet away.
When you lose your pet, you have to allow yourself to grieve. There is no time limit on how long you can feel upset and you shouldn’t have to feel like you have to explain yourself either. Grief comes in a few stages, and regardless of who or what you grieve for, you are likely to experience these stages.
1. Shock or denial.
2. Emotional pain, depression, feelings of guilty, and anger.
The length of time you spend in each phase is a personal experience. You probably won’t even realize that you are going through those phases.
Coping with the death of an animal is something that you need to figure out for yourself. The most important thing is that you allow yourself the feelings that you are experiencing. Try to express yourself as much as possible as well, because talking about your feelings, and talking about your memories of the pet you have lost, is cathartic and will make you feel much better. You will never forget your pet, nor will you ever stop loving them, but you will be able to give their memory a place in your life.
Whether or not you want to get a new pet is also a personal decision. Some people feel incapable of ever having another animal, others get one straight away. There are no right or wrong answers. Whatever your choice is, make sure you don’t feel guilty about the decision that you took. It was the right decision to make for you and your situation.