Coping With the Loss of a Pet
"If there is a heaven, it's certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them." - Pam Brown
Pets love you unconditionally. Even on your worst days, coming home to a wagging tail or brush against your legs can change your whole mood. You ensure that they are well-fed, loved, and even slightly spoiled. You often share your couches, beds, and dinners with them, and include them in your vacation plans and family pictures. More and more stores are allowing your pets to shop with you. Stores like this give pets owners more time to spend with their pets and a valid excuse to take their furry friends everywhere they go. In essence, sometimes, your pets become an extension of who you are.
In return for all the pampering and care-taking, your pets love you unconditionally. You tell them all of your secrets and details about your bad days. They listen intently and provide a judgment-free shoulder to cry on. All they ask for in return is belly rubs and treats. The bond between humans and their pets is beneficial for both species. Having a pet can even reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Pets can become so integrated with who you are.
The only sad part of a pet-human relationship is that the human almost always outlives the pet. While they may not show their age visibly on the outside, you know when they start to decline. Losing a pet can be so hard; most people underestimate how sad they will be to see a pet's time come. They're constant, loving, everyday companions in a way that even some parts of your family might not be.
When It's Time to Go
When pets cross the rainbow bridge, it's hard to accept it and be ready. You want them to live forever and often will do whatever it takes to ensure that they are as healthy and happy as possible. Time is not always your friend, and sometimes a pet's decline becomes so apparent that you have to choose between their quality of life and your own selfish need to keep them with you.
When you have to choose to put a pet down because it's what's best for them, the decision is often made with a broken heart. When you lose them, you are often left wondering what you could have done to keep them with you just a little longer. When it happens suddenly or unexpectedly and you don't get to say goodbye, you might get angry or be full of regret.
Sometimes, though, it's simply a pet's time to go. As much as you hate it, you must learn to move on and deal with the aftermath of the loss of a pet.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
Giving yourself time to grieve is the first step. If you have to explain the loss of a pet to young children or special needs family members, tell them about the death of the pet in a language that they will understand.
Allow your family to process the grief together. Losing a pet can be a traumatic time for you and your family, particularly if young children are in the home. Young children may be emotionally devastated over the loss of the family pet. It's hard to see your children or young siblings unhappy, and you still have your own grief to bear. Give yourself and your family time to grieve.
How to Handle the Aftermath of Loss
Reach out and speak to a therapist if you and your family are having difficulty dealing with the loss of a pet. As much as some people might not understand or tell you to “get over it,” the loss of a beloved pet can be traumatic and cause grief, stress, anxiety, or depression. Talking to a therapist can help you process the loss.
Don't feel guilty about taking a mental health day from work or school. You've lost a family member, and that loss may affect you and your family on many levels. If you have other pets in the home, don't forget about them. These friends are still here, and they still need you to care for and love them.
It is okay to wait before getting another pet, and it is equally okay to be ready for a new one right away. Everyone's grieving period is different, and you know when you will be ready to get another pet. The right animal will find their way to you.
Allow yourself grace to express your emotions. You do not have to put up a front for anyone, and you do not have to pretend like you did not lose your best friend. It is okay to grieve over your loss, and not everyone has to understand how you feel.
Losing a pet can be difficult. Your furry, feathered, or finned friends become integrated into your very existence. Losing them can feel like you have lost a family member. Not everyone will understand the emptiness that is left behind when the loss of a pet occurs. If you have experienced the loss of a beloved pet, it's possible for this event to trigger stress or depression. Don't wait for those feelings to go away on their own; a therapist can help you process your grief and help you if the loss brings about mental health issues. Achieve Medical Center understands how the loss of a pet can cause sadness. While getting another pet may not be an option, reaching out for help is. Achieve Medical Center's caring and compassionate staff understand your loss and are here to help you through the resulting feelings. Call us today at (619) 376-6616 for help.