For the bereaved, dealing with pet loss is like dealing with any other grief.
But other people are not likely to see it that way. It can be hard for others
(especially non pet owners) to see that the loss of a pet can be as upsetting
for us as the loss of a parent or friend. As we get older our emotional reliance
on our pets becomes stronger, especially if we are alone in life.
Children are grown up and usually far away. If we have lost close friends or
our husband or wife, the loss of a pet can plunge us into a very intense grief
that nobody else is likely to understand or share. Our dog or cat may have seen
us through the hardest of times, always been there for us through other griefs
and disappointments, never wavering in their devotion. Often we have had to
make the decision to have the veterinarian end their lives. This can leave us
with a lot of guilt on top of everything else.
The first thing to accept is that however you feel, it’s okay. Even if you’re
more upset about the loss of your pet than you were when your spouse died, it’s
okay. Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel. Some people are going
to have a hard time realizing how badly you feel. But if you say “You know,
this feels even worse than when Joe died … I guess it brings it all back”,
then you’ll probably find most people will be a little more sympathetic.
I don’t want to scare you here, but do take your grief seriously. It can be
very damaging if you do not acknowledge it. Plus if your pet was an active dog
that you walked often, your fitness may soon be headed downhill. If you have
a dog-owning neighbor who is sick or just busy, it could be a good idea to offer
to walk their dog sometimes. And for the emotional side, if you’re in grief
or depressed then seek help for that.
Some people are going to tell you to get another pet. I think that’s a really
bad idea to do that right away. I don’t think that taking on another pet right
away helps in dealing with pet loss - do you?