The Grief That Comes After the Loss of a Pet

The Grief That Comes After the Loss of a Pet
November 14, 2019

Losing a loved one changes you. The loss of someone close brings with it sadness, confusion, anger, bewilderment, and grief. Interestingly – though not surprisingly for those of us who have experienced it –  the scientific community is finding is that the loss of a pet is equal to that of human loss, with the same fundamental impact to those grieving. 

Animal companionship fills a void, a specific need for humans to bond with an unconditional friend. If you have recently lost a pet, you may wonder how you will navigate the feelings, especially during the holidays. Your friends at Advantage Veterinary Center understand your feelings and we are here to offer some support through recommendations and simple steps.

Creating Connection & Honoring the Loss

Finding your way through grief is an individual experience. Some people want to surround themselves with loved ones, while others prefer to become introspective. Some want to have a memorial service, while others would prefer to leave memories to the mind. No matter how you choose to move through this time, it’s essential to be true to yourself.

Here are some ways that can be beneficial and supportive.

  1. Choose a memorial or ritual – There are many ways you can honor your loved one. This can be with a simple lighting of a special candle on the mantel, or creating a display in the corner with pictures and items, or any number of ways. The holidays are full of tradition and ritual, so you can incorporate seasonal themes with your memorial, too.
  2. Volunteer at a shelter – If it is not too hard to be around other animals, one way you can feel better is by volunteering with an animal cause. The holiday season is a busy one for rescues, and you can get involved with dog walks, fundraisers, sewing dog beds, etc.
  3. Stay close to others who understand – When you are going through loss of any time, being with others can help with positive distraction. Many pet owners can be empathetic, as most of us have gone through at least one pet loss. Reaching out to talk and simply be with friends, can help guide you through this time.
  4. Set aside time – Since the holidays are incredibly busy, you may find yourself juggling one too many obligations and skipping on self-care. Going through a loss also requires time for healing and reflection. Remember to take time each day for quiet and rest, as well as basic needs like exercise, nutrition, and health.
  5. Get additional support – If you are finding yourself struggling, getting some outside help is a great option. Grief therapists, pet loss support groups (both online and in person), and pet loss resources are beneficial to the healing process and can help you cope with depression, intense emotions, and other struggles. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. That is why it is there.

After the Loss of a Pet

If we can offer any suggestions for coping with pet loss, we are here for you. You are not alone. Losing a pet is hard but with some tools and heartfelt rituals, you can create great meaning and remembrance for comfort and healing. Please do not hesitate to call.