Coping With the Loss of a Pet

by on 17/05/12 at 6:32 am

My closest friend had a German Shepherd – the friendliest dog you would ever hope to meet. When I first came to their home, Biscuit was already advanced in years, but still alert. My friend worried about her health and age, and hoped she could make it through his daughter’s college year. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case, for Biscuit had become too ill and needed to be euthanized. My friend was the only one with her at the time because he didn’t want the rest of the family to become too upset.

Watching my friend grieve over his lost friend inspired me to want to do something to help, but I had to admit at the time I didn’t know how to respond to his grief. While my friend appreciated the gesture, I wanted to do more, which is why I hope this article will help people who have lost a beloved dog or cat come to terms with their losses. Those who have not had pets in their home may not understand the need to grieve, but when a dog, cat, bird, or other pet becomes part of the family it can be difficult to accept.

First thing to remember: it’s okay to cry. It is okay to feel sad and angry and emotional over this loss. You may deal with guilt and denial and wonder if you could have done anything to help your pet, and if you feel the need to vent or talk with somebody you should do so.

If you are able to find a counselor who deals with this type of loss, see about an appointment, or you may talk with your veterinarian to see what they recommend. Well-meaning friends who have not owned pets might suggest getting another dog or cat in order to help you cope, and your first instinct may be to become angry. Your pet was unique, with a personality and charm that endeared you to him. You may consider another pet in the future, but you know the one you lost can never actually be replaced.

If somebody suggests this to you, simply offer a thank you and nothing more. You may be inclined to berate friends and family, but this will do nothing to resolve your grief. If people persist, you might say that you do not wish to make plans at the moment.

Ultimately, the one thing that will help you get through the loss of your pet is time. Remember the good times enjoyed with your four-footed or winged friend, and wake each day knowing that you are grateful for the time you did have. Take care.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on pet supplies and dog supplies.

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