HOW TO COPE WITH THE LOSS OF YOUR PET
Article by Cinthia Singleton
Unconditional love. Utter need. Loyalty. Devotion. Humans are certainly lucky to be so loved by their pets. And that we can care for any entity as fully we do them is a beautiful thing in this fast, harsh world. So when our furry, whiskered or feathered friend passes on… how DO we grieve?
Personally and profoundly. It’s a process that begins with the end of a dear creature’s life and evolves in the subsequent days, weeks and months…. even years. We first feel the absence, then we actually HEAR the silence which, as we try to quiet it with “going about our business,” echoes in ever corner of the home. Sure, the cages, collars and bowls can be removed but, no, it’s just beginning.
Pets expand the heart. When they are gone, the poor heart is left to is own devices?
1) Be ready to cry and cry if that’s what you feel.
Cry as much as you need. The ‘blubbering’ may not make sense to some around you. “It’s just a [dog, cat, bird, rabbit, et al].” they might say, but to us it’s family and home, and a vulnerability awakened inside us. Cry it out; it’s the soul’s way of moving around the grief and, if you will, articulating it.
2) Cherish the memories.
Enjoy all the pictures of you and your pet over the years. They are more than physical fur or feathers but the personality inside them. They are the experiences shared over the years. Treasure all you can as documented in the pictures.
3) Try to make the grieving process more active and outward; seek out the company of the family and friends who knew your pet.
Sharing the loss with those who knew them is bittersweet but mostly sweet because whether they are friends from the pooch’s favorite dog park or a sibling who remembers when you fell for that little chick in the bird store, they have stories (and memories!) to share. Facebook is a great tool for this.
4) Find joy in surviving pets if there are any.
Sit with them. Hold them. Play with them. Know that they are also, as members of the same household, mourning a loss too. Talk to them about what’s happened. Caring for them helps fill the emptiness and is the best ‘going about your business.’
5) Give in the name of the deceased pet.
Perhaps a rescue organization would benefit from some toys and treats in their honor. Or maybe the park where they played is raising funds for a special playground. Even a small donation to the shelter where you first met, along with a note of appreciation for their work, helps Sparky live on. A donation can be monetary. It can be in the form of volunteer time too.
However we move through the grieving process, it’s a change that’s foisted upon us, one for which we are never prepared. Don’t fight the tears or try to assuage the pain. It’s simply there, barking louder than that black dog of sadness. Know that grief lasts as long as we need to heal, and the spiritual energy that is now the pet will be there to comfort. If grief is the final gift of love, it’s the least we can give our dear friend.
And you know what? Our pets would do it for us tenfold… at the very least. : ))
Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in the heart.” Winnie the Pooh