Stages of Grief You May Experience When Your Pet Dies
The animal that you loved and cared for on a daily basis…is gone…no longer with you. No longer will they greet you at the door…happy to see you…a greeting like no other. No longer do they need your care or your attention…for they have left this earth and have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Losing a beloved pet is extremely difficult. In fact, it is a downright painful experience. The intense sadness that you feel after saying goodbye to a pet is real and should not be ignored. It is very important that you allow yourself time to grieve…in your own way…in your own time.
I believe that you must grieve in order to heal. You must acknowledge your feelings and make peace with them. Once you have done this, you will be able to move forward and eventually, one day, you will be able to look back and think fondly of your beloved pet…with a smile on your face.
Do something special to remember your pet.
Give a special gift to a friend that has lost a beloved pet.
Stages of Grief You May Experience
There are actually several stages of grief that you may experience after losing your pet. You will most likely go through a series of emotions…trust me, this is completely normal. People react to loss in different ways. Some grieve for months or years…while others seem to feel better in a matter of days. No matter how long it takes you to accept and grieve the loss of your pet…know that your feelings are real and most importantly know that it is OK to feel the way you do. Below are several stages of grief that you may experience. Remember, deal with your feelings…and if necessary…turn to a close friend or family member if you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on. After all, we all need a helping hand now and again.
- Shock, Doubt and Denial
This can be considered the "I can't believe my pet is gone" stage as it can be incredibly difficult to believe and finally admit that your beloved pet has passed away. In a way, this is your brain's way of protecting itself from the extreme wave of grief that is about to hit. However, the sooner you accept your loss…the sooner you can move forward and begin to heal.
- Anger, Confusion, Resentment and Blame
I know this stage all too well. When my Beagle died…first I cried (a lot). Then I became extremely angry. I wanted my dog back and I was mad that she had been "taken from me." I blamed myself and questioned the medical care I had provided for her. Was it enough? Was there something else I could have done? Did I not spend enough money…were their better canine doctor's I could've taken her too? I questioned everything I had ever done for my dog. I was angry because I missed my dog and knowing that I would never pet her, walk her or even play with her ever again was too much to bear. It is OK to feel anger when your pet dies. After all, you have something to be angry and upset about! It is also normal to be filled with resentment and even be irritated with those around you. Don't be afraid to tell people that you have lost your pet. By doing so you will be giving them a better understanding as to why you may be having a hard time, feeling sad, or even a little short tempered. Most friends and co-workers will understand as many of them have gone through the same experience.
- Guilt and Regret
When you lose a pet, it is almost impossible NOT to feel guilty. After all, few pets die naturally…most of the time we must make the difficult decision to euthanize them. It is completely normal to wonder if the right decision was made. You may begin to doubt your decision and wish you could take it back. You may feel guilty and regret your decision for many weeks, months and for some people…years to come. No matter how long it takes for you to come to terms with the decision you made, know that what you did was the right thing…the HUMANE thing. Though your pet is no longer with you…and that is sad…try to find happiness in the fact that you freed your pet from pain, from a body that was no longer working properly, from a life in which the quality had vanished. Guilt and regret can begin to overwhelm you. If possible, don't let that happen. If necessary, talk to a close friend or family member so that they can reassure you that you did, in fact, do the right thing. You may even ask to talk the veterinarian that treated your pet. They, too, will reassure you that you did right by your furry friend.
People deal with loss in different ways. After all, we are all individuals with our own thoughts and feelings. Know that how you feel is PERFECTLY NORMAL! One minute you may be laughing and thinking of happy times with your pet…the next you may be crying and wishing you had done more or provided better medical care. Over time, you WILL feel better, I promise! If, for some reason, you just can't seem to get past the loss of your pet, do not be ashamed to seek professional help or call a pet loss support line. Many people do. Many people care.
I have written two other HUBS that deal with pet loss. I truly hope they help you. God Bless!