Losing a pet is never easy and can be just as painful as losing a person that you love. During the coping process, there are ways to ease your pain while keeping their memories alive in your life.
Put Together a Memory Book
Memories of your pet will comfort you in times of sorrow. One way to honor those is with a memory book. Gather your photos and put together a visual timeline that can bring you comfort when missing your pet the most.
Join a Support Group
Just like support groups for people who have lost a loved one, you can also find groups to help you cope with the death of a pet and even discover new ways of dealing with your grief. Grieving alone sometimes makes the process more difficult. By talking with others who have also lost a beloved pet, you can comfort and find strength in each other.
Adopt a Calming Practice
Since grief often comes in waves, it is important to find something that calms you down mentally and emotionally—something that offers you comfort and helps you relax. Meditation is one example of a calming practice that can help you cope with grief. Eating healthy foods and finding ways to release the tension in your body are also good practices for moving on after the loss of a pet.
Seek Out Closure
If the details of your pet’s death are vague or uncertain to you, don’t hesitate to speak with your vet. She or he can provide objective information and insights into your pet’s death experience—and help bring reassurance regarding the positive effects of your care and keeping of them.
Have Your Pet Cremated
Cremations aren’t just for people. You can have your deceased pet cremated and keep their ashes in an urn or other container. Choose a location to display the urn that is meaningful to you, but also somewhere where it will be safe. Some people create a shrine to their pet, surrounding an urn. When the time comes, talk to your vet about where to purchase an urn and have the cremation performed.
Organize a Memorial
Even if you aren’t burying your pet, you can and should organize a memorial if it will bring you some comfort. Invite family and close friends who also loved your pet. Ask some of them to share a favorite memory or story of your pet. You may even choose to record the service to preserve the memorial, and then watch or listen any time that you need to feel close to your pet.
Grieve on Your Own Schedule
No one can or should tell you when, where or how to grieve your loss. The process is different for everyone. When you let your grief progress as it will, you heal from the loss in your own way. Some pet owners take a small part of each day or each week to remember their pet fondly. Others channel their grief into activities that honor the memory of their pet, such as volunteering at the local animal shelter.
Grieving the loss of a pet is natural and healthy. It is important that you allow yourself the time, conditions and opportunities that bring well-being. If you are unable to find some relief over a reasonable period, seek out professional help. The is no shame in reaching out for additional support to help you find closure. In time, grief can be transformed into loving memories that continue to bring ongoing joy into your life.