We all know how important our pets are to us. They are not just animals who happen to live indoors, but members of the family. They share our lives and are there for us through good times and bad. Unfortunately, their time of passing often comes all too soon and we are left with great voids that cannot be filled. Hopefully the following tips will help you and your family through the heartache of losing a beloved pet:
1. Allow time to grieve before adopting another pet
After losing a pet, many peoples’ answer to solving the problem is to rush out and get a new one. Although it is hard for us animal lovers to imagine life without an animal companion, replacing your previous pet too soon may cause more problems than solutions. The new pet will have its own personality, flaws and all, and will not have the same characteristics of your old pet. (No matter how much they may look alike.) You may even start to resent the new pet because of these differences when the new pet should not be to blame. Know that there is no specific amount of time that needs to pass before adopting a new family member and that only you can decide when the time is right.
2. Seek empathetic company
One of the worst feelings in the world is when you are mourning the loss of your pet and someone makes the infamous comment, “It was just a cat/dog.” Not only are you feeling sorry for your late pet and for yourself, but then they make you feel as though you should add embarrassment to the list. Do not feel embarrassed. That pet was a member of the family and will always hold a special place in your heart. If those people are that insensitive, find others who will make you feel better instead of worse. It is usually easier to get through rough times by surrounding yourself with those who are both supportive and who can relate to your situation.
3. Decide what to keep and to remove
Although it may be comforting to keep a memento or two, it is also a good idea to make the hard decision of what stays and what goes. Perhaps your dog’s ID tag or your cat’s favorite blanket would be too difficult to part with; therefore, you should find a special place in your home to keep those treasures safe over the years. Keep in mind, however, that one of the best ways to make the mourning process worse is to keep your pet’s personal things lying around as though the pet were still there. This will only cause you to start the grieving process all over again every time you see them. If you know you will not be getting another pet, perhaps a local animal shelter could use your pet’s old bed or food bowl. Or you could always see if a family member or neighbor might be in need of a few chew toys or leftover treats for their pet.
4. Do not neglect your other pets
If you belong to a multiple pet home, know that the other animals will realize something has changed. Whether they all lived in harmony or they could not stand each other, they will still react to the change in the environment. In fact, they may even begin to show signs of depression such as not eating, incessantly roaming from room to room, or not wanting to play with a favorite toy. Give them ample attention and try to keep the daily routine as normal as possible. They, just like you, will need time to adjust to the absence of their companion.
5. Seek Closure
Although your pet will never truly be gone from your memory, the best thing you can do is try to move on with your life. The fact is that domestic animals, dogs and cats in particular, have about one seventh of the lifespan that we do. It’s a hard truth to face, but everyone who has had to watch their animal pass has had to accept that truth. We know this when we adopt our pets and we know the time will eventually come when we have to make one of life’s toughest choices: Do we euthanize our pet to humanely end his/her suffering? Remember your pets for the great times you had and for all the joy they brought into your life. Know that when the time comes, you have made a difference in that animal’s life, just as they have in yours.