The pain you feel over the loss of an animal friend is as natural as the pain you would feel over the loss of any significant relationship and you shouldn’t let anyone minimize that or tell us you that it was “only an animal”. Loving pets are in fact members of the family. They are playmates, confidants and companions offering unwavering and unconditional love and loyalty.
Many people are totally unprepared to face the excruciating pain associated with the death of a beloved pet. You may wonder if you are crazy to feel such sorrow over a non-human and are afraid that others might judge you harshly. You may even think there is something unnatural about your feelings. Since society doesn’t offer much support to grieving animal lovers, you may end up feeling very isolated and alone. Statements such as “It was just an animal” illustrate how others fail to recognize the significance of this loss.
As a Pet Loss Grief Counselor I hear many of these statements and want to let you know your feelings are normal and there is a way to heal. Here are a few healthy ways to cope with the pain:
- Don’t argue with others about whether your grief is appropriate or not.
- Look for support outside your usual circle of friends and family members if they are not being supportive. Be selective in who you tell.
- Seek out others who have lost pets and understand how you are feeling. They can provide support and advice on how to heal.
- Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
Don’t be afraid to call me for yourself, a friend or your children. I can help you through this process.
Issues Commonly Addressed Through Pet Loss Grief Counseling:
- Finding a way through the grieving to create a “new normal”
- Making the difficult decision of euthanasia and dealing with guilt
- Coping with missing animals and coming to terms with giving up a companion
- Coping with a chronically ill pet
- Helping children cope with a pet’s passing
- Celebrating the relationship with your companion animal
- Deciding to bring another animal into the home
“When a pet dies, that special place in our hearts feels so empty. But, as time passes, we realize our animals have taught us about loving, loyalty, friendship, & joy. These are things that will remain with us always.” Liz Pollack