Forever, For Always: Grieving the Loss of a Pet
There is nothing so heartbreaking as the loss of a loved one. This loss permeates our entire being and takes time for us to fully process all of the emotions it brings. The same is true when we lose a beloved pet – there is something missing that will never again be regained, only to be accepted.
You may be grieving the loss of a pet and wonder how you can move through this painful time. Grief is both poignant and it changes us, but we do come out stronger and with greater understanding of our capacity to love and heal. The team at The Pets Place Animal Hospital is here for you, to give you some comforting tips on coping with the loss of a pet.
The Impact of Pet Loss
Leslie Irvine, a sociologist at the University of Colorado-Boulder, did a study on the effects of losing a pet in relation to our more recent view of pet companions. Over the past few decades, pets have been seen more like a family member than an animal. In this respect, she says, the loss can feel just as hurtful as the loss of a fellow human loved one.
A big part of this is our bond with our animal friends. As pets became integrated into the daily routine, we share with them the intimate details of our life. In addition, the reason for this emotional bond is the chemical oxytocin. It replicates the feel-good emotions that are associated with love. There is a biological reason why we become attached and when we lose the subject of the attachment, we feel grief.
Ways to Cope with the Loss
Death is an unfortunate part of everyone’s life, and losing a pet is inevitable. The emotions can become overwhelming without support. There are coping skills and self-care measures, however, you can use to make the transition easier.
- Honor the loss – Whether you choose to host a memorial service, plant a memorial garden, wear a pendant with your pet’s ashes, or any other meaningful ritual, this can help you process the loss. These gestures of memorializing the love you shared with your fur friend can bring peace and healing.
- Reach out to others – Speak with others who have lost a pet, such as on online pet loss boards or through other social media. You can also reach out to friends who understand how special your pet was to you.
- Get some exercise – Grief can cause a person to become isolated and forego their daily routine. Daily exercise, though, elevates the mood, reduces stress, and keeps you fit. It’s a good way to cope with overwhelming feelings.
- Write it out – Writing a letter to your pet, penning a eulogy, or journaling about your feelings can really help with closure and healing.
- Maintain your basic needs – Making sure you attend to hygiene, regular meals, exercise, and sleep can help you better manage grief. It may seem hard to want to participate in normal life, but by taking care of yourself, it can be a positive distraction from painful thoughts.
After the Loss of a Pet
At The Pets Place, our team members understand what you are going through and are here for you. If you would like more information or resources on navigating and recovering from the loss of a pet, please do not hesitate to call us.