Pet Bereavement

by Bob Walsh

When a pet dies, it can make you feel intense emotional pain and grief. Many people have no idea how agonizing pet bereavement can be. Some people might even think of it as being overly sentimental, childish or silly. Obviously, they never had a real emotional relationship with a pet and do not know what it’s like.

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There are many things that can go to your head and your heart when you are grieving the death of a pet. Sorrow, guilt, anger, despair, denial, depression, loneliness – all of these are real. Do not let anyone belittle your pain “just because it’s a pet”. If they could feel your pain, they would not talk like that.

As difficult as it may be – you have to find a way to let go, and a way to move on. Simply suppressing your emotions will not help you – even if you are able to distract yourself, underneath the pain will remain and haunt you. You have to walk through the grieving and come out on the other side so that you can leave it behind.

There are many possible ways to do that. One of the first things you should do is talk to someone about it. Make sure that is someone who is able to understand the situation. Simply expressing your experiences and sharing them with someone can help a little bit to take the heavy burden from you and can relieve your heart a bit.

Losing loved ones is a part of life, it is a part of the experience of being a human being. It might be one of the most agonizing and unpleasant experiences, but the good thing is that at the end, you will emerge stronger. The challenges and losses that we face in live are there to make us stronger.

You want to be able to cherish the good times that you and your pet had. Remember how good you took care of it. These are all examples of something that you did out of selflessness, because you wanted your pet to be happy. It is important that you acknowledge yourself for these accomplishments and are proud of them, rather than feeling sad about the things that could have been.

If you had to make the difficult decision to euthanize your pet, you might feel guilty. Don’t. If you decided to euthanize your pet, you did it in order to spare it from pointless suffering. You had the well-being of your pet in mind. Maybe you feel that you should have taken care better of your pet, then it would not have gotten so sick – but it is impossible to know that in advance, and even pets that are taken care of perfectly can become sick.

Psychologists have discovered that there are stages of grief when we lose a loved one. They originally referred to losing a child, a partner, a parent, a (human) friend. But now we know that these stages of grief are also the stages that humans go through when they lose a beloved pet.

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