Coping With the Grief of Losing a Pet

Pets have an incredible ability to become part of our families. The moment we decide to bring one of these furry friends into our homes, they begin to capture our hearts bit by bit. 

Even apprehensive first-time pet owners can relate to the overwhelming power these loveable best friends have over our emotions as time passes. Every day we spend with our pets training them, learning about them, and watching them grow is a day that we come to cherish. The companionship, acceptance, and unconditional love that comes with this unique bond is one of the great joys of life.

One of the hardest aspects of having a pet is the day we have to say goodbye to them. On average, the typical lifespan for a pet is around eight to thirteen years. Although our beloved pet’s passing is inevitable, the loss of a dog, cat, or other pet is extremely challenging.

There are very few experiences as devastating as saying goodbye to a faithful companion who’s reached the end of their time on Earth. The loss of a pet can be very similar to the loss of a human family member, and it will take time to process our many emotions.

How Can We Process the Grief of Losing a Pet?

The grief of losing a pet can run deep for pet owners and their loved ones. The sadness, loneliness, and even guilt that arise during the grieving process can be overwhelming. There are fewer resources available to help guide us through the loss of our animal companions.

Still, we don’t need to experience the loss of a beloved pet alone. Reaching out for comfort from pet loss support groups, licensed therapists, or professional counseling can help us cope with the loss of an incredible member of the family. 

If you have experienced this heartbreak or you are simply trying to prepare yourself, here are some important things to remember when coping with the loss of your pet. 

Give Yourself Room To Feel

Allowing ourselves to feel our emotions is the first and arguably one of the most important steps in learning how to cope with the grief of losing a pet. Living in a fast-paced world has its deficits, and one of those drawbacks is that our packed schedules can leave us with little time to mourn.

While most companies will understand that their employees need time to process familial deaths and provide bereavement time, this luxury isn’t as common when coping with the death of a pet.  

Many times, the hardest part of handling the death of a pet is the pressure to keep living life normally and not let it interrupt our daily routines. Thankfully, many workplaces will have sympathy for this immense loss, and it’s important to ask for the time that we need to honor our pet’s life and legacy.

This may look like taking some PTO or even just talking with your boss about having some extra time off to process. If you find that you are in a place where it is hard to get time off of work, try to be proactive about how to create this time for yourself. 

The cultural norms around animal death are not conducive to allowing people to have the proper amount of time to process our sorrow. We shouldn’t rush this process of our own healing. 

Take the weekend to set aside time for processing and grieving, and allow yourself the dignity of feeling the valid grief at your loss. Funeral rituals like a memorial ceremony can help give owners and relatives an opportunity to celebrate the life of this remarkable pet.

Make a Commitment Not To Judge Yourself

For many people, the journey of self-care is one that we are actively learning about. When it comes to walking through grief, self-care can take on a whole new form. 

It can seem hard to justify the time and the emotional capacity that grief will demand of us. In fact, it can seem overwhelming to realize how much patience and understanding we may need to give ourselves through this journey. 

Learning how to get rid of expectations when it comes to the grief process is important. Just because we are experiencing the loss of an animal doesn’t mean that it will be any less complicated to understand than if it were a human, and denial will not serve us here. Anxiety, depression, and other complex emotions may come in waves, and it’s important to honor our emotions.

For some people, our connection to our pets is so deep that it’s hard to fully understand even for us. Make a point to determine from the onset to not judge your process and accept your journey. 

Reach Out for Help

Humans are designed to be communal creatures. This intrinsic part of the human experience is undeniable. As a species, humans celebrate life together through unions like marriage, job promotions, an anniversary, and birthdays. 

In a similar way, we walk through grief together as well. Every person will have a unique journey when it comes to how we walk through grief, and no two journeys will be the same. 

When it comes to the social aspect of grief, don’t deny yourself the support you need from friends and family. As a person who lost something very near and dear to their heart, it’s important to get the help and support we need from those around us. Reach out to friends or family, and don’t walk through this time alone. 

Support can look like a lot of different things for different people. Some people may need to externally process this experience, and it may be important to have someone they can talk to about their incredible pet’s life. 

Others may simply need another person’s silent presence or to be checked in on from time to time. Whatever kind of support you need from your community, be sure to ask for it as you walk through this season of grief. 

Commemorating Their Memory

Another powerful way to cope with the grief of losing a pet is to commemorate their memory.

Finding some kind of memorial can have a deeply healing effect. It helps us understand the appreciation and love you have for our pets and also helps us keep their memory close as we heal. 

For many people, choosing to have their pet cremated is a convenient option that also provides an opportunity to honor their legacy. For millions of pet owners, cremating their pets remains is even the only viable option available due to a lack of burial space on their property. 

If you should choose to have your pet cremated, there are a few different routes that you can consider. Communal cremation is the most cost-effective option, and it ethically disposes of your pet’s remains in a hygienic way. However, this method of cremation does not return your pet’s ashes to you because multiple remains are cremated at the same time. 

In both partitioned and private cremation, you receive your pet’s ashes and can use them to commemorate your pet’s memory. Many people will choose to either keep their pet’s ashes in a memorial urn or have them scattered in a sentimental location. 

Creating a Memorial Diamond 

While there are several ways you can commemorate the memory of your pet, one beautiful method is to create a diamond from the carbon in their ashes. This process takes the ashes retrieved from your pet’s cremation and purifies them down to their carbonic elements. 

Once the carbon from their ashes has been extracted, it is placed inside state-of-the-art machinery that mimics the Earth’s mantle where diamonds are naturally formed. 

The carbon is exposed to intense heat and pressure to the point that it naturally creates a diamond. This diamond is custom designed to a specific cut, setting, and color to reflect your pet’s unique personality and life. 

Creating a diamond out of the carbon within your pet’s ashes is a cathartic way to keep a physical connection to them even after they’ve passed. To learn more about memorial diamonds as a portable memorial for your beloved pet, visit Eterneva’s website.   

Sources 

Coping with the Loss of a Pet I Psych Central 

How Long Do Dogs Live – Dog Breeds and Life Expectancy | PetMD

How to Grieve the Death of a Pet | Cleveland Clinic

BROWSE BLOG & RESOURCES BY CATEGORY

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