The moment you realize your pet isn’t going to make it you start to experience feelings of grief that you never knew were possible. The loss of a beloved family pet should never be overlooked and the stages of grief should always be recognized and respected. All dog and pet owners will understand the terrible feeling of losing a cherished furry family member. Going through the motions of mourning and grief will not only allow you to come to terms with the situation, but it will also help you to find closure along the way. Here are the six main difficult stages of grieving a lost pet that you may experience.
The first feeling you might notice when grieving a deceased pet is loneliness. This type of emotion is completely normal as your usual companion will no longer be right next to you. You may feel an emptiness inside your home and your heart, but this feeling should only be temporary. Depending on your personal preferences, you may want to have your pet cremated so that you can remember them fondly; there are a variety of beautiful pet urns to choose from. Having your pet inside your home and present inside a personalized urn will help you to overcome the ongoing feelings of loneliness.
- Extreme Sadness
When you lose a pet it’s only natural to cry it out and allow yourself to feel every bit of sadness. Unfortunately, this is a wave you’ll have to ride until the rawness of the situation subsides. If you can take some time off work to rest and recuperate during this time it could benefit your mental health. On the other hand, many people prefer to work through the situation in order to take their mind off everything that is going on.
- Reminders of Their Presence
It’s likely that you’ll have a lot of reminders of your dog or cat around the house. Their bed, toys, food and favorite spot on the sofa will be there to remind you of them. It’s up to you whether you hold onto the sentimental possessions or you move them out of sight so you don't upset yourself. It is natural to want to keep things the same, but over time you might want to think about rearranging the room or finding a special box to put their toys in.
When you lose a pet it can often bring up feelings of guilt when you look back on your relationship with them. Did you spend enough time with them? Did they live a fulfilled life? Could you have done anything to save them? These are all natural thoughts, but you shouldn’t dwell on them too much if you can.
- Difficulty Concentrating
It’s completely normal to experience difficulties with concentration when your pet has passed away; you’re mourning the event and trying to come to terms with everything that has happened. When you try to carry out everyday tasks you may have numerous thoughts running through your mind all at once. Perhaps you’re trying to work and all you can think about is your beloved pet. During these moments you may want to try some mindfulness practice to allow yourself to consciously think about your lost pet. Turn the experience into an enlightening, positive event that allows you to look back fondly at the time you spent together.
- Visions of Their Passing
When a pet owner experiences a traumatic, unexpected or particularly painful death with their believed furry friend, it’s only natural to revisit it in your mind. Having visions of their passing will continue frequently, but in the beginning your memories will be very vivid. There is no easy way to get over these visions, they will simply stay in your mind as long as you allow them to. Try to think of the positive moments in your head rather than the negative imagery of death when you reminisce about your pet.
The healing process will vary from person to person, but ultimately you need to allow yourself to go on your own journey. Your mind and body will have a natural reaction to the bad news, the memories and the flashbacks of good or bad times together. As long as you embrace this time in your life you will live through each stage and come out even stronger in the end. Losing a pet will never been an easy experience to navigate so if you ever go through it, hopefully you will understand these stages and feel supported along the way.