Saying goodbye to a beloved member of the family is one of the most difficult trials a person can face. You have received comfort, joy and friendship from your pet. You have grown close in a way that only exists between a person and a companion animal. Now that it is time to say goodbye, you may feel the loss is overwhelming.
The death of a pet may be even more difficult when you have to make the choice to end your dog or cat’s suffering. You may feel torn or even guilty at the idea of euthanizing your long-term companion. Remind yourself that this is a decision that is born out of love. You and your veterinarian make this decision because it truly is what is best. Though you know this to be logically true, it does not ease your suffering. You still need to get through the absence of your friend regardless of how, why or when the end came.
Allow Yourself Time to Grieve
Losing a pet is no different than losing any other member of your family. You must go through the stages of grief in order to heal. Allow yourself to feel sadness, pain and even anger. Do not rush the healing process either. You will eventually begin to heal, it won’t happen right away. You may even need to ask for time off from work or school. Your first priority should be to take care of yourself in this time of need.
Reach Out to Loved Ones
Your friends and loved ones will understand how deeply you are hurting. You may need the support of others to get through the mourning process. Friends who have lost pets are likely to be able to empathize. They know what it is like to face the world without their pets, which may be of great benefit to you.
Offer Comfort to Others
Sometimes, the best way to heal is to help others through their pain. You may have family members who were just as close to your dog or cat as you were. Find solace in each other. Share fun stories and memories of your lost companion. Cry together and laugh together. You will be surprised how much easier grief is to handle when you are not alone.
Establish a Memorial
Many pet-owners find establishing a memorial to be a good way to both remember and honor a lost loved one. You may choose a plaque or burial stone with a meaningful quote or poem. You might wish to plant a tree or sponsor a park bench in your dog or cat’s name. Another option is to visit a local shelter. You can purchase needed supplies in your lost loved one’s name.
Open Your Heart
The time may eventually come that you will want to adopt a new cat or dog. For some, that time may be within weeks or even days of the loss. Others may need months or longer. You should not feel pressured into adopting an animal before you are ready. Likewise, you should not feel bad about wanting to open your heart once again.