It’s hard to hold back the tears when you’re in pain. I know, because my dog died not long ago. He was only half my age so he was like a little brother to me. I took him everywhere with me, tucked in his bed by my side at night, or just lying next to me on the couch during the day. He was part of everything that I did. Now he’s gone, and I can’t stop crying — it feels like it’s tearing my heart out of me.
How do you deal with sadness after a pet dies?
When I lost my dog, I was crushed. How could this happen to me? This is exactly the question that many pet owners ask after a pet dies. Well, if you’ve ever lost a pet, you know that this question can be a tough one to answer.
There are many emotions involved during this time of grief and mourning, and it’s going to take some time for your body and mind to heal from such loss. With the help of professionals, many people have found ways to cope with this painful issue by breaking through the feeling of sorrow and grief in their hearts.
An expected passing
Your pet may have a long-term illness or have suffered an accident. No doubt you will have discussed the possibility that euthanasia may be the kindest option. In this case, your veterinarian will talk you through the entire process, so you will know each step and what to expect.
You will be able to spend a few moments with your pet to say goodbye before the veterinary team delivers drugs that will place your pet into a gentle sleep before they pass away. The procedure is painless, just like laying down to take a nap.
The surgery can arrange for cremation if that is your preferred option and you will be able to collect your pet’s ashes to scatter them or keep them at home. Cremation is more expensive than other options, however, you can opt to have some of your pet’s ashes stored in a piece of jewelry or a keepsake.
Alternatively, your local vet can help to organize a burial at a pet cemetery. You may be able to bury your pet at home, provided you own it. It is illegal to bury an animal on land you do not own or in a public place.
A sudden passing
Dealing with the sudden loss of a pet is never easy, no matter what the circumstances. Whether your pet was hit by a car, suffered from an illness that came on suddenly, or passed away from other reasons, you are likely to feel shocked and disbelief at first, followed by intense grief. Sudden pet loss is difficult for everyone involved but there are healthy ways to cope with the loss of your beloved pet.
Recognize that you have lost more than just a companion animal; you have experienced the loss of a beloved family member. Acknowledge that you may be feeling sad, angry, guilty, depressed, and lonely. These feelings are all normal responses to losing someone we love.
Allow yourself to grieve your pet’s passing in whatever manner feels right to you. Crying and other signs of emotional distress are normal parts of the grieving process. If you feel like talking about it with others, do so; if not, that’s okay too. You don’t need to justify your emotions or behavior to anyone else.
As part of your grieving process, pay tribute to your pet’s life by doing something special in his or her honor.
Dealing with the grief of losing a pet
Creating a memorial is a wonderful way to remember your pet, to say goodbye, and to create a place where you can go whenever you are missing them. Your memorial could be planting a flower bed or tree, reciting a poem, or leaving flowers at a spot on your pet’s favorite walk.
Choose one or two of your favorite photographs and have them printed and framed by a photography company. This will give you something to keep in the home to remind you of your beloved pet.
Contact your local pet bereavement service. Many animal charities have such services or you can search online. There are also lots of wonderful, supportive social media forums for people who have experienced similar losses where you can talk and share your feelings. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed asking for help. Grief is a difficult process and you should not do it alone.
Take some time to grieve your pet before considering getting a new one. Having that empty space in your life may feel strange at first, but you should be sure that you have recovered from your loss before bringing a new pet into your life.
Why is losing a pet so painful?
For most of us, the loss of a beloved pet is our first real experience with death. While we know that all living things die, it is a shock to us when it happens. We often feel overwhelmed and unprepared for this experience.
As the intensity and duration of grieving can be quite unexpected, we may feel guilt or embarrassment about our feelings of grief. We may not understand why we are so affected by the loss of a pet.
Not only do we grieve for the physical presence of our pet but also for the unique relationship that has been lost. It has been said that grieving for a pet is similar to grieving for a family member who lived with you – which it was! For some people, losing a pet may represent an even greater loss than the death of some human relationships.
This is especially true if the relationship with your pet was stronger than other relationships in your life. This is not surprising as pets are often non-judgmental and accepting; they give us unconditional love and loyalty and they ask little in return. Grieving for such a special relationship is normal and to be expected.
Can you be traumatized by the death of a pet?
People often question whether or not it’s possible to be traumatized by the death of a pet. After all, they say, pets aren’t people. But mourning their loss can have a big impact on our lives.
The reason is that people form these close bonds with their pets and don’t really recognize how deep those attachments go until the pet dies.
A pet is part of your family and then you lose them so suddenly. It’s like losing part of your soul.
When we lose a pet, there are two main things that happen: There is a significant change in our lives, and we don’t really understand what happened. We’re confused about why the animal died and we feel we’ve been left alone in a very vulnerable place. It’s especially hard if we have to make the decision to euthanize.
The worst is when you have to put an animal down. Then you have to deal with your own guilt.
Can a pet dying make you depressed?
There are many different ways that pet owners grieve and mourn the loss of their pets. Some people experience depressive symptoms, which can range from mild feelings of sadness to more serious clinical depression.
Others may have more anxiety-related symptoms, such as struggling with sleep and appetite, flashbacks to the last moments with their pet, or even hypervigilance around other pets, not wanting to lose them too. Panic attacks are also common.
Some people feel angry and become irritable, finding themselves snapping at family members or coworkers over seemingly small things. Others may be in denial or feel numb.
Although grief is a normal part of life, if a person is experiencing ongoing intense emotions like those described above for an extended period of time (several weeks or months), it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.
Do pets know you love them?
One of the greatest joys that many pet owners experience is the unconditional love that their pets show for them. They are always happy to see us, and their wagging tails and little kisses can make our day.
Our pets love us unconditionally. They don’t care if we have a bad hair day or just lost our job. They think we are great! The feeling is mutual, and pet owners will go out of their way to display affection toward their pets.
Do dogs know that when you kiss them it means that you love them?
The short answer is yes.
Dogs, like humans, use facial expressions to communicate with each other. When you look at your dog’s face, he understands what you are saying.
A study found that when a dog looks at his owner’s face, the release of oxytocin increases in both the owner and the dog. Oxytocin is known as “the bonding hormone”.
Conclusion of coping with losing a pet
Losing a pet suddenly can be devastating. The process of mourning is personal and varies from person to person. There is no time limit or right way to grieve. What’s important is that you allow yourself to feel the pain, process your emotions, and know you’re not alone.
If you need help coping with the loss of a pet, talk with friends and family who understand and sympathize with your situation. If you do not have anyone you can talk to, consider speaking with your veterinarian or seeking out a therapist who specializes in animal-related grief.
The loss of a beloved pet can be extremely upsetting and can affect how you feel physically, as well as emotionally. Grieving is a natural part of coping with the loss and this is usually helped by spending time with other people who are helping you through your loss.
You’re likely to feel shocked, disbelief, and confused at first, which may be followed by deep sadness, depression, and guilt. Your grief may come in waves and often at unexpected times. It might be triggered by something that reminds you of your pet – such as a particular song or your pet’s favorite food.
Your grief may make it difficult to concentrate on simple daily tasks. You might even find yourself distracted while driving or operating machinery.
Here are some suggestions for what you can do in the aftermath of a sudden pet loss:
- Take time away from work if needed
- Lean on friends and family
- Ask for help with other pets or household responsibilities
- Stay away from negative self-talk, such as “I should have done something differently” or “I should be over this by now”
- Remember that you did nothing wrong, and there was no way you could have prevented your pet’s death
- Ask your vet or local animal shelter if they have grief counseling resources available, or can recommend a therapist who specializes in pet loss
- Find support in online communities dedicated to pet loss