Many of us share a strong bond and love for our fur friends. They have been our wonderful companions and an important part of our family. Coping with the loss of a pet can be extremely difficult.
While some people would not understand the depth of sorrow that you are feeling over this unfortunate event, you should never be ashamed about grieving over the loss of your cherished pet.
The Process of Grief
It is essential to understand that in coping with the loss of a pet, it is natural to feel grief.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist who developed the “stages of grief”. Her work with terminally ill patients led her to become a pioneer in near-death studies. In her book “On Death and Dying” published in 1969, she argued that terminally ill patients go through 5 stages of grief when faced with their imminent death. In her book with co-author David Kessler, published in 2005, “On Death and Grieving”, this concept was also applied to those who have lost a loved one.
Coping with the loss of a pet comes in these stages as well.
5 Stages of Grief When Coping With The Loss Of A Pet
“This is not happening.”
As a defence mechanism, it is a normal reaction to deny the fact that your pet is gone. It is a temporary response that carries you through the first wave of pain.
“This wouldn’t have happened if only…”
The search for who or what blame, the feeling of intense guilt and lashing out happen in this stage. The pain starts to get more real as the numbing effects of the denial stage wear off. Your anger may be directed to your environment, to the people around you or even to yourself.
“I will do this if you bring him back”.
Bargaining is the attempt to negotiate your way out of the circumstance. It is a very short escape from your pain that provides temporary hope.
“When will this end?”
During this stage, you may feel intense sadness, emptiness, loss of motivation, lack of sleep, loss of appetite and many others. It seems endless, and you lack hope of ever getting over the loss of your cherished animal friend.
“I am letting you go now.”
In this stage of grief, you accept the reality that you have lost your pet, and there is nothing else you can do to change that. This stage is all about recognising that your beloved pet is physically gone and that is a permanent reality.
Tips On Coping With The Loss Of A Pet
Cry. Your Grief Is Your Own
You are in the process of mourning, so it is natural to feel a roller coaster of emotions. Cry if you have to, laugh at the happy memories if you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you how you must feel. You have lost YOUR pet so grieve in the way you want to.
Embrace The Memories
Compiling photos and videos of your pet during the happy days can help you remember all the beautiful memories that you have shared. Remembering the fun times can help with coping with the loss of a pet.
Find other people who have gone through a similar ordeal. Check out online message boards, support groups in social media or in your local community or family and friends who have lost their pets. It gives a sense of relief and knowing that there are other people out there also coping with the loss of a pet, just like you.
They can provide you with advice and tips on how to deal with the loss of your pet.
Seek Professional Help
If your grief interferes with your ability to work or function normally, you should seek professional help. Remember that it doesn’t mean that you automatically have a mental illness if you are feeling a certain way. Seek professional help if you feel the need to. Let qualified people like doctors and psychiatrists who specialise in their fields give you advice.
Take Your Time
Healing from something traumatic such as a loss of your pet takes time. You will have a flood of different emotions. Be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time.