Pets are becoming a part of our everyday lives, therefore when they die, something inside us shifts. Research conducted about a decade ago on the level of grief and stress pet owners experience when their pet dies revealed that they feel significant grief for six months or longer.
Pet grief is complicated because most people do not understand why they feel such overwhelming sadness for an animal. According to the study, the grieving that occurs after a pet’s death is in many ways comparable to the loss of a family member.
To make this period not too disruptive and sad, you can find ways of remembering your pet and celebrating the life and bond that you had created together.
A good way to remember your pet is to donate to a society that cares and protects animals, in its name. You will be preserving the memory of your pet as well as helping other pets. You can also volunteer your time to a shelter that cares for strays and abandoned animals.
You could also join pet bereavement groups online where fellow pet owners remember their lost pets and comfort one another. This will help validate your feelings and share the great moments you had with your companion. You can also create a scrapbook containing all the photos you took of the pet. This will mean you will always have something to look back on when remembering them.
Do not donate all their toys and leashes and bowls. Keep some as a symbol of remembrance. You may also frame one of their photos and have it somewhere where you can see it often.
People who are significantly attached to their animal experience significant grief, so it is normal to feel sadness at the loss of your pet. Much as the death of a beloved pet will not be recognised as a significant loss by friends or even your employer, do not be afraid to do what will soften the sadness.
And if you have children, involve them in the activities to remember the pet. The death of a family pet can trigger a sense of loss in children that is deep and lingering in ways you may not imagine.
Maryanne is a pet owner. [email protected]