The awful reality of owning a pet is that they will someday leave us. To some people the death of a dog or a cat shouldn’t be that significant. But those of us with pets who are a part of our family know that the death of an animal family member can hurt in the same ways as the death of a person. With a lot of our residents owning pets, we’ve come up with a few tips for coping with the loss of a pet, because we understand that they are truly a part of your family.
Grief is okay
The stages of grief include denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance and resolution. These stages also apply to grief at the death of a pet. Don’t let anyone tell you that your intense grief over the loss of a pet is silly, crazy, or overly emotional. Pets are a significant part of our lives and losing them can be a big change and bring tremendous sadness. Some people may not understand the bond you had with your pet, but that doesn’t make your grief abnormal.
Other pets will also grieve
If you own more than one pet and one of them passes away, your remaining pets are certain to experience grief of their own. So how do you help them? They are going to require a lot of extra love and attention. Helping a pet with their grief may also help you to get through yours.
Don’t get a new pet right away
Some people rush into getting a new pet after they lose one. This can be a big mistake because you may not be ready. A new pet will not be the same as your old – they won’t act in the same way or be used to your routine and this change might be too much right away. Children in particular have a hard time adjusting when a new pet is brought in right away. Additionally, other pets in the household may resent a new pet if it is brought in too soon after the death of another.
If you find that you are unable to cope with the loss of your pet or you don’t know how to manage your grief – there are resources available.
- ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: (877) GRIEF-10
- Tufts University Pet Loss Support Line (508) 839-7966
- Penn Vet Grief Support Hotline (215) 898-4556