On Coping with the Loss of a Companion Animal
Ways of Coping with Pet Loss
It can be the most difficult time in life to have to say goodbye to a beloved companion animal. It is a time that we may feel so overwhelmed by grief that we may not know what to do with ourselves or know how to move on. There is no amount of time that this will take and there is no cure but we can provide some advice on how to help you get through this time.
Give yourself permission to grieve. Even though the emotions may be too much to bear it is still important to give yourself some alone-time. It is healthy to allow yourself to experience and express shock, anger, denial, guilt and sadness as they are all a part of the grieving process. The most vital step in coping with emotions is to acknowledge them. Pushing down your emotions may only hurt you in the long run and it may take longer to heal. Receiving support is just as important as grieving. Surround yourself and talk with others who are empathetic about pet loss or who are going through the same thing you are. Join a pet loss support group especially if you feel depressed or extremely angry. Another step to help you get through the hard times is to reflect on the good times you had with your pet and remember the positive memories, the ones that will make you smile or laugh. Try not to focus so much on the hard times.
Ways for Helping Children Cope with Pet Loss
A bereaved child needs support from his or her parents. Be honest with your child as they usually can tell when their parents aren’t truthful. It is key to talk openly about the loss of your pet and encourage children to do the same. Many children will express their feelings through drawing and other forms of nonverbal expressions. When you communicate with your child try to answer concerns or questions by being as honest as possible. It is okay to cry together or to let them see you cry so as to show them that grieving is normal. Don’t try to talk your children out of their feelings or minimize the loss. Perhaps having a memorial, whether it’s a burial, moment of silence or a walk in a special place where you have memories of the pet may help ease the pain. Another idea is to go through a photo album of your pet and go through memories with your child. This will provoke happiness and laughter as well as sadness. It will help you to both get a chance for reflection.