Dr. Nancy Curotto, licensed psychologist, can help you recover from pet loss.
When you love a pet, you have a unique and significant confidant, companion, and a source of unconditional, sometimes a more profound relationship than with a friend, partner, or parent. When you lose a pet, you want to honor their life and your bond by creating positive memories. These memories become a treasured part of yourself.
Mourning a pet can be similar to mourning the loss of a close friend or immediate family member. The sadness and pain are real. The loss changes all aspects of your life. It's a loss of a companion and unconditional love. Recalling your pet's playful habits and unique personality characteristics may be painful. Be kind to yourself. Dealing with pet loss is difficult; get support from a counselor or licensed psychologist.
Losing a pet is hard enough to endure without positive community, friends, and family support. While your community and peers may love you dearly, if they have not ever formed a relationship with a pet or believe in the value of pets, these individuals may be unable to understand your grief. Getting support during this difficult time is essential. Consider joining an in-person or online support group, call a hotline, or seek out therapy.
Anticipatory loss occurs when we imagine our lives without our beloved pets or face the fact that we may lose them. Anticipatory loss can be harder to bear than the grief we experience after their death. It is natural to feel some anxiety and fear about what caring for your ill pet may cost you in time, effort, and money; getting support and remaining present is essential. Anticipating the loss of a sick pet taxes the body and mind and keeps us on constant alert for an unpredictable amount of time.
If you lose custody of your pet or are required to share custody due to a divorce, breakup, or roommate agreement, the loss of control is intense and can cause overwhelming stress. You can feel anxious and sad when you do not have daily access to your pet's life. Get support and talk to someone who can help you cope with your pet's departure and survive the separation and new custody arrangement.
Grief has no time limit. For some, it lasts days; for others, it lasts weeks or months. Do not feel pressure to speed up your grieving process or recovery. Understanding that the process of grief is a unique, personal experience helps. Find support and ask for help.
The first step in knowing whether you are ready for a new pet is recognizing where you are in your grief process. While some individuals grieve quickly and are emotionally prepared for a new pet, others need more time to accept the loss. Rushing the process is risky to you and your relationship with a new pet because a new pet comes with a different personality and needs than the one you lost. When you are ready, embrace the new journey that an other pet will bring to your life.