Coping With The Loss Of A Pet

 By: Jeffrey Weber
Many people consider their pet to be a close friend or a member of the family. For many pet owners their pet may be the only family they have. These pet owners know the incredible pain and sense of loss when their beloved pet passes. In this article we will discuss ways to cope with those feelings.

It is important to acknowledge your feelings. In the time your pet was with you they became an integral and significant part of your life. Our pets provide us with so many things, a sense of companionship, a source of comfort, they offer us unconditional love and accept us for who we are. For these reasons experiencing intense grief over the loss of a pet is absolutely normal and should be accepted as a normal part of the grieving process. People who donè¢''t understand the human animal bond may have a difficult time understanding your sense of grief. All that truly matters is what you are feeling. Under no circumstances should you allow anyone to make you feel silly or overly sentimental for grieving the loss of your friend.

Grieving is a process and needs to be worked through. While individuals may experience grief in different ways, however there are some basic stages of grief that the majority of people feel to various degrees.

Often people feel guilty over the loss of a pet. They hold themselves responsible in some way for the petsè¢'' death. It is sometimes referred to as the è¢''What if syndromeè¢''. You question your choices and actions in regards to your pet. è¢''What if I had been more careful coming in the door?è¢'' è¢''What if I had taken them to vet more often?è¢'' The fact is accidents happen and illness occurs and is out of our control. To burden oneself with the responsibility and guilt for those things is pointless and only serves to make it more difficult to deal with your grief

Denial is a common step in the grief process. It makes it difficult to accept the fact that your pet is gone. You may find it hard to imagine your pet not being there to greet you at the door or seeing the wagging tail at mealtime. There are instances where pet owners have been known to take denial to such extremes that they believe their pet is still alive and suffering somewhere. Still others have a difficult time with the idea of choosing a new pet in the future fearing disloyalty to the pet that has passed.

Anger is a natural and necessary part of the grieving process. The source of this feeling of anger is your pain over your loss. You may be angry with the driver of the speeding car or the veterinarian who failed to save your pets life. Grief often makes you feel lost like a small ship at sea and anger often serves as source of strength, and anchor. However, carried to extremes, such as attacking loved ones or friends, it only serves to alienate those who support you and hinders you in resolving your grief.

A common and natural aftereffect of grief is depression. Depression can leave you feeling hopeless and powerless to deal with your feelings. In extreme circumstances depression will rob you of your motivation and sap your energy causing you to dwell only on your sorrow and loss.

It is vital that you deal with your feelings. One of the most important things you can do is to be completely honest with yourself about your feelings. Do not deny your sense of loss, your pain and anger in an effort to appear strong for those around you. When you acknowledge, examine and come to terms with your feelings you can begin to work through them.

Do not deny your grief. Hiding it will not make it go away. Express it in a way that helps you the most, whether it is by crying, stomping on the floor, or talking it out with someone. Donè¢''t avoid the feelings of grief by not thinking about your pet, try reminiscing about all of the good times you had with your pet. This serves to help you understand the depth of your loss.

There are many ways to come to terms with your feelings of loss. Here are some common ways that work well for a lot of pet parents. Some people find it very helpful to share their feelings and memories by writing stories, or poems. Create a memorial honoring your pet, such a collage of photos to hang in a prominent place in your home. It may also help to rearrange your days schedule in such a way as to fill in the times you would have been with your pet with other activities. If you know other pet lovers there is no doubt they will understand your feelings, find a friend or family member to talk with. Be sure you choose someone you will feel comfortable crying or grieving with and will accept your feelings without judgments.

If none of these things help you, or you are alone without family and friends, or simply need more help in dealing with your loss ask your veterinarian or the local humane association to recommend a pet loss counselor or support group. Ask for grief counseling from your church or a local hospital. It is vital that you understand and accept that your feelings of grief are authentic and you deserve support in your time of need.
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