No matter how you try to move forward from your pet’s loss, you simply can’t forget the pain. Dealing with the grief and losing a pet might be too heavy a burden for you to carry. Don’t feel silly or ridiculous about it. It’s a feeling shared by many other people, and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
Although the feeling of grief over the loss of a beloved pet is quite common, there is an apparent lack of counseling services for pet grief.
Today, there are a number of services that can help you deal with the grief in a healthy way. The stages of grieving the loss of a pet are similar to that of a human: it starts with denial, anger, bargaining and depression. However, the final stage in grieving is resolution: the decision that you want to move forward and do better. There are many other ways for you to deal with the loss.
1. Join a support group
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers a list of pet bereavement support groups in several states. Most humane societies also offer group sessions. Psychotherapist Marcia Breitenbach recommends this approach because it allows pet owners to see that they are not alone. If your community does not have a pet grief group, she suggests attending bereavement group sessions, which typically are offered at churches or hospitals.
“It’s important to be around people who are dealing with the same thing in the sense that the feelings are identical,” Breitenbach says. (Read more here)
2. Take time to grieve
Other people might make you feel as if losing a pet is not something you grieve about. But you can’t change the way you feel, especially if your fur baby has been with you through thick and thin. Your senior dog pet was your family, and it’s okay to grieve your loss.
3. Let others know the stage you are in
In connection with the previous point, you should let your friends, relatives, and your colleagues know about the situation you are in. Some of them would fail to understand your situation and be unsupportive about what you’re going through. This isn’t because they intend anything bad, but because of a misunderstanding of the process of grieving the loss of a pet.
4. Use it as a learning experience. Let go.
Losing a dog is likened to losing a child, as most pet owners have developed a sense of attachment akin to a parent. One way to deal with this painful feeling is by writing a letter to the pet, and subsequently a letter from the pet.
If your kids are involved in this entire ordeal, don’t rule them out. Don’t rule them out in the grieving process, and explain to them what happened to your beloved pet—that it’s body is no longer working well, and had to say goodbye. They will have their own ways of grieving, and it’s important to involve your kids in the process.
It might take a while. But don’t resist the grieving process. Go through it, start pursuing other activities, perhaps even consider another pet in the future. For now, soak it all in, and with the mentioned tips, you’ll surely get by and get better.