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Tips for coping with the loss of a pet

Updated on December 13, 2011

Suffering through the loss of a pet is something that nearly all pet owners have, or will, experience. It's a sad fact of life that for most of us, our animal friends just don't live nearly as long as we do. Even with types of pets who have longer life spans, the time we have with them never seems long enough. What can make things even harder for pet owners after the death of a beloved pet, is that unlike with humans, not everyone understands what it can be like to loss an animal companion. Not everyone will be sympathetic about the loss of a pet. Pets, for many of us, become more than just pets. They are members of our families and the bonds we share with them can often times be even stronger than the bonds shared with our fellow man. Pets can become such a huge part of our lives, that loosing them can be a very hard thing to deal with.

After the death of a pet, it's important to understand that it's quite normal to grieve. You're not weird or crazy for feeling upset during this sad time. Not everyone will understand your pain, but that doesn't make it abnormal. It's very natural to go through the process of grieving after the death of a pet. Don't be surprised if you feel the strong emotions often times associated with the death of a human family member; including guilt, denial, anger, depression, and/or an intense feeling of loss and sorrow.

Don't be afraid to show your emotions. Don't deny your pain or feel like you have to hide how you are feeling. It's important to work through your emotions in order to come to terms with what happened. If you can find someone to talk to, an understanding family member or friend, talking about how you feel with someone else can be helpful. If you don't feel that you can discus things with the people that are close to you, consider looking elsewhere for support. There are thousands of pet owners in the United States alone, and many of them will understand what you are going through. You can consider seeking out online pet communities, to discus the loss of your pet with individuals who will be understanding and sympathetic. If you don't like that idea, a quick Google search should turn up the numbers of local pet bereavement hotlines, where you can talk to a trained individual about your loss. You can also try asking your veterinarian or local animal shelter for advice. They may be able to point you towards any local pet loss support groups or other forms of assistance.

Try to think about all the happy memories you have of your pet. Think about what a good life you gave him/her and how special your time together was. If you are an artistic person, consider getting your feelings out in the form of a poem or other work of art about your pet. Get your emotions out on paper or some other outlet. Don't worry about sounding stupid, you don't have to share your art with anyone if you don't want too. If you're not the creative type, perhaps you could consider working on a memorial for your pet. Make a collage out of pictures of your departed friend, write down stories of the happy memories you shared, or set up an area in your home where you display pictures and a few of the pets favorite items. It can be hard to do, but try to focus on remembering the good times instead of the pets death.

Usually the most helpful healer after experiencing a death is time. In time you should hopefully come to accept the death better. That's not to say that you will not always miss your friend. Time can never take away the memory of the time you spent together, and it will not bring your pet back, but it can help to dull the pain. Remember that as long as you carry your pets memory in your heart, they are never truly gone. The love and friendship that you shared with them will be something that will most likely effect your life forever, and in that way your pet lives on.


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