Losing your dog or cat is deeply painful, and you’ll miss the unconditional love and loyalty your pet gives. Here’s help for surviving the loss of a pet, inspired by a reader’s request.
In How to Survive the Loss of Your Pet, I share a wide variety of coping strategies from veterinarians, grief experts, and people who survived the loss of their own dogs and cats. This ebook will help if you feel like you’ll never recover from the loss of your pet – or if you feel guilty or responsible for your dog or cat’s death.
Sometimes the best way to heal is to learn what helped others through their grief. Much of the time, though, what helps is simply reading stories of what pet owners experienced and how they dealt with grief. We are comforted and consoled when we discover we’re not alone, especially if we’re coping with something as complicated and sad as learning how to forgive ourselves for not protecting our pets.
Surviving the Loss of Your Pet
Share your grief and lighten the load by writing about your experience. I encourage you to share your stories of your dog or cat in the comments section below. Here are a few questions to think about:
What is your favorite memory of your dog or cat?
Mine is when my dog Georgie and I were standing in the living room, wondering what to do next. Suddenly she farted loudly – but she didn’t know what the noise was or where it came from! She looked behind her to see what the heck was going on back there….and then she smelled it. Her noise started twitching, she lifted her head in the air. She shuddered. I could just hear her thinking, “What is that SMELL? Gross!”
That memory always makes me laugh when I think of it. So guess what? I think about it a lot.
Did you know it’d hurt so bad to lose your pet?
In How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away, I described the permanent pain I feel about losing one of my dogs. It was heartbreaking, and I will never fully recover from the grief. I didn’t know losing a dog would be so terrible. What helped me survive was sharing my experience here on my blog, and hearing from readers who are going through the same thing.
If you’re surprised by your grief, write about it. If you knew you’d need help surviving the loss of a pet, write about why you anticipated the pain. It’s not always easy to write about painful feelings, but it can be healing.
What happened to your pet?
It hurts to describe our losses and griefs, but it’s worse to keep painful feelings buried. Talk about your pet, write about how it feels to grieve his or her death. You might even write your dog or cat a letter. Pour out your heart and soul in writing – it’ll help you survive the loss of a pet.
It sometimes takes courage to share what happened, especially if you feel guilty or embarrassed about your pet’s death. I encourage you to allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest. You may not want to share your experience online, especially if you’re worried about being judged. Write in your journal or on a piece of paper. It’s healthy and cathartic to express your feelings, and will help you process your loss.
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Can you open your heart, and love another dog or cat?
On How to Cope With Your Pet’s Death – A Veterinarian’s Help, I discuss the idea of adopting another pet. Some people want to get another animal right away, while others need time to grieve. Some people never own a dog or cat again. Maybe it’s because they didn’t get the right help surviving the loss of a pet, or maybe they just want to live a different type of lifestyle.
May your heart heal from the grief and pain of losing your beloved animal. Whether or not you adopt again, I pray for healing and closure. May you find ways to express your grief and process the pain so your heart can be whole again. Bruised, but whole.
Is it better to have loved and lost?
One of the first quotes I remember learning is, “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”
I had to give away my cat Zoey when I moved to Africa. I couldn’t find friends or family to take care of her, and wasn’t prepared to take her with me. I’ll never fully recover from the pain of giving her away, just like I’ll never fully heal from the pain of giving my dog away. Even so, I’d rather have loved them than not.
The love and comfort my pets brought to my life surpasses the pain I feel about losing them. When I focus on how much I loved them, my heart expands. When I think about losing them, my heart hurts bad. So I try to spend more time thinking about how much my cat and dog bring to my life, rather than grieving my loss.
Do you feel guilty about your pet’s death?
I’ve mentioned guilt about pet loss a couple times because almost all pet owners feel guilty about their dog or cat’s death. Even if they didn’t do anything to cause the death, many people feel guilty about not taking better care of their pets, or not doing more to save them, or making a decision to say good-bye too soon.
Our feelings are caused by the stories we tell ourselves. What story are you telling yourself about the loss of your pet? If you’re blaming yourself, you might need to work through those feelings as you process your grief.
Good-byes are not forever. They simply mean I’ll miss you until we meet again.
If you’re a believer, you might find Spiritual Ways to Survive Pet Loss helpful.
I welcome your thoughts below, and hope you find the right help surviving the loss of a pet.