Losing a pet can be as traumatic as losing a beloved person; here are some guidelines to help you stay whole while grieving
Dealing with the loss of a beloved pet can be for some just as devastating as dealing with the loss of a family member, or a close friend. The grieving process is inevitably painful; however, you can help yourself move on by following simple but effective techniques for maintaining your emotional, physical and mental health. Here are five tips to help you understand yourself and your needs better when mourning your dear pet.
Don’t give up on your daily routines
The safest way to overcome anxiety and restlessness over your pet’s departure is to keep doing what pushes you forward. This is easier said than done since we usually feel like indulging our dark side when feeling down. Taking a long break may seem like a good method to recharge and process your emotions, but it may actually hurt more than it helps.
Following through with your daily obligations makes you accept the fact that life must go on and that you still have control over your future.
What’s more, people tend to give in to the first phase of grieving, when they neglect their basic needs like eating, sleeping, exercising, and socializing. Make yourself do what’s good for your body in order to retain the strength and positive energy to properly mourn your pet. If your body is weak, your spirits are low, which only prolongs the emotional suffering.
Find the time to express your grief
While it’s essential to continue with your normal life, it’s also important to feel your grief and accept it as something normal. Let yourself acknowledge the fact that your lovely animal friend has been a great part of your life.
Embrace your emotions as they come, as you probably won’t be able to control the place and time when it happens. For some people, it’s been helpful to make time just for grieving, like creating your ‘alone’ hour, or talking to others who also share the memory of your pet. Repressed emotions and denial can lead to chronic anxiety, depressive thoughts, lack of motivation and struggle to move on.
Keep your love for animals strong
Although it may seem scary at first, adopting or getting a new pet can help you refocus and devote yourself again to something meaningful. There isn’t a better way to help yourself heal than by getting a new pet or giving a new chance to an abandoned or unprotected animal. The more time you spend giving, the happier and more purpose-oriented you are. This can help you get closure and find peace and acceptance.
There are many ways to find a new pet, especially if you want a dog or a cat. Totally Goldens, for example, breaks down the pros/cons of many options, including consideration of adopting from a rescue center since the animals there are in the greatest need of help, love, and acceptance.
You are the boss of your feelings
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel or behave after you lose a pet. People who haven’t experienced the bond and love with an animal cannot truly understand the sadness, so you may not immediately receive support or feel comfortable in grieving openly about your four-legged companion. But grief is real — it doesn’t matter the cause, it’s still something you experience vividly.
It’s a process you must go through, not around.
If you need a break, take a break. If you need to talk about it, find someone who will understand. If you need to write about it, express your feelings in journal or blog, a pet memorial or even a book. The bottom line is, you decide and have the power to choose how you will say goodbye to your pet properly.
Reconnect with your pet
Another soul-healing way of moving on is to rekindle the good emotions and remember the moments you shared with your pet. By reminiscing about the good times and special memories, you will help yourself calm down and more easily accept the loss.
You can repurpose and reuse your pet’s belongings to always carry a part of them by your side. A collar tag can become a beautiful keychain, you can use a photo and fill a necklace medallion, make a story-like photo album or a diary. You can even keep a memory box filled with your dog’s favorite toys, blankets and other objects worthy of remembering.
Doing anything that reminds you of your pet can be a great healing aid.
You may also enjoy reading Soul Dog: A Journey into the Spiritual Life of Animals by Elena Mannes