The saying goes, “pets are friends for life.” However, unfortunately, life isn’t forever, and at some stage, our pets get ill and pass on. It’s heartbreaking and can be just as difficult to deal with as the death of a human family member or friend. And the worst part is, our pets don’t live as long as our human counterparts!
If your pet has recently passed on, we’re sure you’re going through a really tough time. It’s important to remember during these dark periods that one day, the pain will ease and that memories that now make you cry will one day make you smile and laugh.
Here are some tips for how to cope and help yourself heal when your pet crosses over the Rainbow Bridge.
Let yourself grieve
Not everyone understands the power that our relationships with our pets can have over us, and this will mean that not everyone understands the grieving process when it comes to our pets passing on. People may not understand why you’re so upset or may expect you to ‘get over it’ sooner rather than later.
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In order to help yourself heal, you need to respect your emotions and let yourself feel exactly how you are feeling in that moment. If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to call a friend and have a chat to reminisce about your beloved pet, go ahead and do just that.
Everyone’s grieving process is different, and accepting yours for what it is will make the entire ordeal just that tiny bit easier.
Write down your feelings
As well as accepting and acknowledging your feelings, writing down your emotions can be a great way to help you process them. Keep a journal or diary in the days, weeks or months following the death of your pet, and record the times you are overwhelmed with grief, or just when you want to have a quiet moment to reflect.
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Writing is extremely therapeutic, and you’ll no doubt have a few smiles or laughs when a happy memory with your furry friend jumps into your head. Sometimes the pain can truly feel unbearable, but the saving grace is that the memories you have with them will live on for as long as you do.
Remember your pet in your home
Creating a homage to your pet in your home can be a great activity for coping with the grief of losing them, as well as making sure you never, ever forget them.
Some ways to commemorate your pet in your home:
- Have photos of them printed and framed, and place them in high-traffic areas of your home so you get reminders of them throughout the day.
- Create a slideshow of photos with your pet and watch it whenever you feel like you’re really missing them.
- Place their ashes in a special place in your home if you had them cremated.
- Frame their collar, tag, and/or lead and hang it near your front door.
- Set your phone or computer background as a picture of your pet.
- Before your pet passes on, take a tracing or imprint of their paw and save it forever.
Helping other pets cope
We aren’t the only ones that suffer when an animal friend is lost. If you’re lucky enough to have had two animals at the same time, then your other pets may be grieving just as much as you are. Grieving animals may whimper, be lethargic, and refuse to eat or drink, especially if they were particularly close with your pet that’s passed on.
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Try to give your pet some extra TLC during this time and as much emotional support as you can offer. There’s never been a better excuse for more cuddle time! Trying to maintain a normal routine in terms of feeding, walks, and baths will also help both you and your pet.
Getting another pet
It’s easy (and very tempting) to want to immediately go out and get another pet when one of your existing pets passes on. Although this may seem a logical move, it’s true that getting a replacement pet doesn’t always fix the hole in your heart.
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Getting a pet is a serious commitment (as you know), and you need to think long and hard about the decision before you jump into anything. The pet you adopt may suffer if you rush the decision, so make sure that you’re prepared to give your all to another animal for another 15 years before trying to fill the gap your precious pet has left in your home.
Help other animals
If you love animals and see them as parts of the family and not just dogs or cats (which you obviously do if you’re reading this article), then why not consider becoming a vet assistant? You’ll spend your days helping animals and their owners to live long, healthy and happy lives together using your expert knowledge and skills. And what could be more rewarding than that?