Dealing With The Loss of A Pet - Losing Your Dog
Pets are a large part of the lives of many people today. I, for one, can say that my dogs, reptiles, and small animals, all play a part in my sanity at times. Having pets around will help your own health status. In many cases, it has been found that having a dog will lower your blood pressure. Having something that lives for the moment and doesn't hold grudges is a wonder to us humans who can't fathom the thought of not knowing what is to be or why someone had the nerve to do something.
People, today, spend millions of dollars on their pets in order to take care of them properly. Buying toys, food, bowls, leashes, collars, clothes, and having to pay for vet bills and other unexpected costs, is a large part of owning a pet (some of which are optional such as clothes). Most Americans, today, want nothing but the best they can provide for their pet, and become greatly saddened when something happens to them.
So, dealing with grief over the loss of a pet can be very hard to both adults and children and everyone in between.
When dealing with the grief of a lost loved one, many emotions can surface. Shock, anger, and depression, are the most common emotions seen. But, many people will put blame on someone for the loss of the pet. They may begin to lash out at friends and family members. Usually, depending on the closeness between the pet parent and the pet, itself, largely determines the range of emotions that can be seen.
Many times the loss of a beloved family dog will create emense sadness and depression amongst the pet parent, whereas with the loss of a pet goldfish, the same emotions may not surface.
Stages of Grief
Grieving for the loss of a pet for any reason (run away, stolen, death) is the same for all cases. The grieving process goes something like:
- Shock and denial
- Bargaining (with God to bring back the pet)
- Acceptance and recovery
Not everyone will experience all five stages of grief or experience the stages equally. In general, most people will actually flip back and forth between stages before they are able to fully recover from the loss of the pet.
There are many ways to help with grief:
- Speak to your church members or pastor.
- Internet support groups.
- Friends and family.
- Volunteer at a rescue.
- Write down your emotions. Sometimes this will help you get everything you feel out. This is great for those who have a hard time expressing themselves speaking, writing down how you feel will allow you to get everything out.
- Have a proper funeral. This is particularly helpful with young children. Have all family participate. Get dressed up, and have a proper funeral/burial for the pet. Have everyone say something nice about the pet or something they will miss.
- Sometimes getting another pet will, also, aid in the recovery process. This does NOT replace the deceased pet, but it helps fill the void. This is something that is sort of a last resort. Not to be tried directly after losing a pet.
The loss of a pet can be devastating to anyone. It can be even harder to recover the loss. But, getting the feelings out always helps. It's not the best idea to hold any feelings in. Cry. Scream. Punch pillows. Do what you have to do. Just get out the pent up emotion. Otherwise, it will build and build within you. Find the best way to recover the loss of you pet no matter how big or small. Dog or cat. Hamster or gecko.
Personal experience with loss
This year I have suffered many great pet losses. Some of which hurt more than others, but I was saddened none-the-less.
The first, and most severe loss is that of my pit bull puppy named Chance. Chance did not pass away. He did not run away. He was stolen. Chance was, and I believe is, a great dog, who knew no stranger. It has been a very rocky road since his disappearance late December of '06. I experience emotions of shock, anger, depression, and blame. Many nights I blamed myself for not doing anything prior to the incident. I blamed my boyfriend for not trying harder to find him. I played the "What if" game many nights, all of which ended in sleepless tears. After six months of tears, I was improving very slowly. At that point, I realized I needed something serious... I needed another puppy. After bringing MIA home, my life has changed greatly. I still think about Chance. I still have is pictures everywhere. I still love and miss him. And, I still believe I could have done more for him. But, I no longer cry myself to sleep. The void that he left behind, where my heart wanted to give love to him but couldn't, had been filled. No, I have not replaced Chance. I could NEVER replace him, but the hole has been filled.
Pebbles, Rocky, and Roxy, three hamsters which have died this year. Their death, although sad and upsetting, did not affect me as did the loss of Chance, but by their loss, I have found ways to show that affection to my other small animals.
Chong and Chiko, two chinchillas. Now, both with different stories- Chong I found dead one morning without any signs of illness, and Chiko I found near death and tried to nurse him back to health (after seeing a vet of course), and found him dead the following morning. He died in between my hourly wake-ups. As Chong and I had our differences, his death saddened and worried me greatly, but in comparison Chiko and I had been very close. I had, had him since he was six weeks old. I could not help but shed many tears upon his death. Much less when the vet told me that he did not see anything visibly wrong with his body, that he had great fat tissues, skin color and coat. I knew I had taken care of him the best I could.