Coping With Pet Loss
Losing A Pet Is Devastating.
Our pets are members of our family...pet loss can be just as heart breaking as losing a human member of the family...sometimes even harder, because our pets love us unconditionally and all of our memories about them are good.
When our cat Kitty Wompuss died, our entire family was devestated...even our dog was miserable. If you are feeling overwhelmed with grief, please know that you are not alone...and that your feelings are a normal part of pet loss.
Here you will find some of the things that have helped my family deal with the loss of our furry family member.
A Poem For Grieving
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die...
Is It Normal To Feel So Much Pain?
Yes ~ You have lost a member of your family.
Don't let anyone tell you that it isn't normal to feel intense pain over losing your pet.
Your pet was a loving companion who was an important part of your life, just like any other family member or loved one. It is not silly, crazy or weird to grieve the loss of a family member just because that family member was an animal.
Your pet loved you unconditionally and found true joy in making you happy, while never asking for much else in return. That kind of love is rarely found in human to human relationships, so losing a pet can seem even more painful since our pets are so innocent and loving.
People who have never really bonded with a pet may not understand the depth of pain involved with losing a pet. All that matters is how you feel, don't let others try to make you feel guilty for your pain. Your pain is valid and a natural part of the healing process.
Is it Normal to Feel Guilty or Angry?
Yes ~ Everyone experiences grief in their own way.
Guilt and anger are the two most common feelings that occur after pet loss.
If our pet dies due to an accident, we tend to beat ourselves up...we feel like we should have done more to protect them, that it is somehow our fault.
If our pet dies due to sickness we feel guilt and wonder if we could have saved them by getting them treatment sooner or fed them differently.
We even feel guilty when we do the kind thing and have our elderly, sick or suffering pet euthanized.
These feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. We feel guilty because our pets depend on us totally and it's hard to not feel like we somehow let them down.
Instead of swelling on should haves & could haves, we need to focus on all the good memories & love we did share with them. You pet loved you and would not want you to blame yourself. Your pet would see you sad right now and want to comfort you and make you smile ans feel better.
Anger is also a common feeling. After we lose our pet it is normal to be angry. Our pet was an innocent and it all seems so sensless and it hurts so much. With emotions that intense anger is a good release valve.
The most important thing is to let yourself feel your emotions. It is completely normal to feel guilt, anger, denial and even depression after pet loss. It's okay to cry, scream, and be sad. Trying to deny your feeling will just make it worse and harder to cope with.
What Is the Best Way To Heal the Pain?
Acknowledge it and let yourself grieve.
The best thing you can do is to give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your pet. Be honest about your feelings, don't try to repress, deny or ignore your pain, that will only make it build up and hurt more.
Only by feeling the pain, can we begin to heal and work through our feelings. You have every right to grieve and feel pain. Someone you loved dearly has died and it hurts. denying that pain won't make it go away.
Express your feelings...cry, scream, pound on your pillow, talk to your loved ones, pray...do whatever you need to do to work through your feelings. When my Kitty Wompuss died I cried for three days straight, and it was big, loud, howling sobs...not quiet lady like sniffles. My hubby was beside himself trying to console me, while working through his own grief.
The most important thing is to let yourself grieve, then when you're ready the healing can begin.
The Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge Poem
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
~ Author unknown
~ In Loving Memory Of Kitty Wompuss
How To Help Your Children Cope With The Loss
~ Honesty is usually the best policy
When I was a child, we always had a house full of pets, but magically none of them ever died. Us kids were always told that the missing animal had been taken to live on a farm where they could have lots of room to run and play.
This never really fooled us, especially since we lived on a farm that had lots of room for them to run and play. When we were very small we often wondered if it was like a magic farm or a really big farm, because the whole farm thing really didn't make much sense.
As we got older (teens) we would just roll our eyes and say "yeah, whatever" but we came to eventually realize that my Mother needed the farm story more than we did, because the loss of a pet was so hard on her. It's really up to each parent how they decide to deal with death with their children. I was always totally honest with my kids and they appreciated being able to mourn the loss, but I can understand my mother's way also.
No matter which you choose, give the child the opportunity to say goodbye to their pet if at all possible first. I know that the thing we resented most about the farm story was that we never got to say goodbye.
Is It Best To Get Another Pet Right Away?
Don't Rush Into Anything
It is usually best to let yourself go through the grieving process first before even really considering getting a new pet. Don't let other people push you into getting a new pet right away either.
Children especially need extra time to work through their feelings, otherwise they can end up resenting the new pet, because they are afraid that by loving it, they are being disloyal to the previous pet.
A new pet should become a part of your family because you are totally ready to build a relationship and give all of your love to your new family member, rather than to fill the hole in your heart that losing the previous pet caused.
When you are ready, choose a new pet for it's own unique personality rather than a look-alike to your lost pet. Don't expect your new pet to behave like the one you lost, you need to be ready to love your new pet for who it is and not as a replacement for your lost pet.
Do Surviving Pets Greive After Pet Loss?
Yes ~ Pets form relationships just like people
After we lost our Kitty Wompuss, our dog Koko was just as devastated as the rest of us, maybe even more so, because she couldn't understand where her kitty was.
Koko spent hours staring at the door and whining, waiting for her cat to come home. She searched the house and yard for him and nudged us with her nose, as if saying "please, go get my kitty." It broke our hearts.
She became very depressed and stopped eating, spending more and more time staring at the door. We took her for a week vacation to the cabin to help her get her mind off the loss. She was very happy at the cabin and we thought it worked, until we got home and she immediately resumed the previous grieving behavior.
We actually ended up adopting a new kitten, even though we were not sure we were ready yet, just to help Koko. The change was astounding. Koko knew it wasn't her Kitty, but the new kitten gave her something new to focus on. Koko is completely in love with her new kitten and has recovered from her depression.
Pet Loss Support Links
- Pet Loss Support Page
Anyone who considers a pet a beloved friend, companion, or family member knows the intense pain that accompanies the loss of that friend. Following are some tips on coping with that grief, and with the difficult decisions one faces upon the loss of a
- Pet Loss Grief Support Website
A gentle and compassionate website for pet lovers who are grieving over the death of a pet or an ill pet.
- Rainbow Bridge
Rainbows Bridge is a virtual memorial home for your departed baby. Whether furry, feathered or scaled, all are welcome.