Pets are family too so you must grieve if you desire to heal.
The loss of a pet is a profound moment. The bonds we share with our pets are unlike any we have with other people. There is a purity that comes from the unconditional love in these relationships, something we don’t find elsewhere in our lives.
When a pet dies, a part of us seems to die too.
They have been a part of our lives every day for so long… and it’s so hard to imagine what life is going to be like without them. Healing is a long process that you need to give yourself time to experience.
You’ll need to embrace it and that can be difficult, so we suggest you start by creating the right environment.
1. Find Supportive People
Grieving on your own can be extremely difficult and isolation may make the pain last longer. Look to friends and family who have gone through a similar loss and may be receptive to your feelings.
This can be a complicated experience because the reality is that many people won’t understand the gravity of the moment. People who don’t make an emotional connection with animals may say things like “It’s just and animal” or “just get another pet,” because they can’t relate to what you’re going through.
You can look to our online communities for support and to share stories, which can put you in the right mindset to cope with your loss.
There are also many other forms of support you may not have thought of, including pet-bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, and local or online pet-bereavement groups. Your local Humane Society may offer a pet-loss support group or be able to refer you to one.
2. Surrender to the Grieving Process
You may find yourself feeling confused, hurt, overwhelmed, or even disoriented. You also may notice yourself becoming angry and exhausted, both physically and emotionally.
Don’t worry… everything you are feeling is normal. You are in the midst of a trauma. Give yourself permission to grieve.
One of our clients shared that she missed 3 days of work when her dog died. She didn’t expect that the loss would affect her so deeply and found herself unable to get out of bed in the morning. She felt guilty for missing work, and she felt judged by her co-workers who said, “It’s just a dog… why are you missing work?”
Not only did she have to deal with the grief of losing her dog, but she also beat herself up for grieving on top of it.
If you deny yourself the perfectly natural emotion of grieving, you can elevate stress and physical fatigue and even suppress your ability to heal. Acknowledge your grief and express it the way that works best for you.
One process that you may find beneficial is to journal about what you’re going through or to simply write down all of the feelings you are experiencing during the grieving process.
3. Create a Ceremony to Honor Your Pet
Ceremonies or rituals are a great way to mark significant occasions of sadness or celebration. It can be very therapeutic to ritualize your pet’s death through a ceremony or memorial service.
Some people like to perform a private ritual or ceremony for their pet, and some people prefer to share the experience with friends or family.
For example, after our dog Elliott died, our daughter Abbey painted and decorated a selection or rocks and created a sacred space in our garden where she had a ceremony and placed the rocks.
Painting the rocks themselves was part of the ceremony because it creative an active way to think, grieve, and cope.
Many pet owners have shared with us that providing a dignified burial or cremation for their pet allows them to both express their love for their pet and to get closure.
4. Memorialize Your Pet
Creating a memorial or tribute can be great tool in the healing process. They provide you with a safe space to go and be with your pet and your grief.
And eventually they turn into a place for you to go to celebrate your pet’s life and the memories that you’ve shared together. Lasting memorials often turn into places that we enjoy returning to time and time again.
Our favorite way to memorialize a pet is to get a biodegradable urn that is specifically designed to turn your pet’s ashes into a tree.
You get a living memorial that can grow and make you feel connected to your pet. You’re also continuing the cycle of life and are able to enjoy the warmth that this new memory brings.
We know that the loss of your pet is truly the loss of a family member. That’s why we often suggest planning a memorial like you would for any loved one, so you have a place to go and remember.
Embrace the warm, happy memories of your time together by creating a living remembrance with the Bios Urn. They may be gone, but they’ll never be forgotten.