For those who have never had a beloved companion animal, pet loss can be hard to understand.
“It was just a cat,” they might say. But for grief-stricken pet parents, animal loss is every bit as devastating as the loss of any other family member. In fact, it may be more difficult because there is often a lack of understanding of the significance of this relationship, and sympathy may be in short supply. In the following article, we will share some important information to help you cope with the loss of a beloved pet.
Grief isn’t “one size fits all.”
It is impossible to compare your reaction to losing a cherished pet with anyone else’s experience. Because a pet can be such a treasured member of the family, it’s not out of the ordinary to feel the loss very deeply. It depends largely on your relationship with the animal. Pets represent a primary source of unconditional love and support for many people. In these cases, grieving a pet may be even more difficult than grieving a human being.
Keep them close to your heart.
Physical memorials are among the most comforting ways to remember a cherished pet. Some families choose to create a memorial photo album or scrapbook, while others keep their animal’s collar in a special place of honor. Many people create a memorial area in the yard where their pet is buried. You might put your pet’s ashes in a decorative urn or create a place of tribute with pictures and meaningful mementos. Remembering the fun and love you shared with your pet can help you to move on when the time is right.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel.
Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to cry, get angry, or feel guilty. It’s also okay to laugh, find moments of joy, and let go when you’re ready.
Reach out to others who understand.
If your friends and family members are not sympathetic about your loss, find someone who is. Check out online message boards and pet loss hotlines. Often, another person who has also experienced the loss of a beloved pet may better understand what you’re going through. For those who find solace in talking things out with others, joining a pet loss support group (in-person or online) can be helpful.
Make sure everyone in the family is supported.
Losing a furry loved one affects every member of the household. Kids will need extra support, as losing a pet is often their first personal experience with death. And if you have multiple pets in the household, they’re going to grieve the loss of their companion.
Give yourself time.
Above all, remember that coping with the loss of a pet takes time. It is a very individual and personal decision if and when to invite another pet into your life. Sharing your love with another animal is not a betrayal of your beloved friend. If you feel you are unable or not ready to get another pet, you might consider volunteering your time or resources at an animal shelter. It’s a wonderful way to help needy animals and celebrate your furry friend's life.
It’s natural to feel deep grief and sadness when a beloved dog, cat, or other pet dies. As beloved members of the family, they bring love, fun, and joy to our lives. There are many healthy ways to cope with the pain of loss, and when the time is right, you may even choose to open your heart to another animal companion.
At Evan W. Smith Funeral Services, we are here to offer helpful resources and compassionate care in your time of need. If you have questions or need additional information, please reach out to us anytime.
About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.