When you love a pet; you have a unique and significant confidant, companion and a source of unconditional love-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 of unconditional love. Initially, it may be painful to recall your pet's playful habits and unique personality characteristics. Be kind to yourself, dealing with pet loss is difficult, get support with a counselor or licensed psychologist.
The loss of a pet is hard enough to endure without positive support from your community, friends, and family. 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 important. Consider joining an in-person or online support group, call a hotline or seek out therapy.
Anticipatory loss occurs when we image our life without our beloved pet 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; it's important to get support, and remain present. Anticipation of loss of an ill pet taxes the body and mind, and keeps us in 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, break up or roommate agreement; the loss of control is intense and can cause overwhelming stress. When you do not have daily access to your pet's life you can feel anxious and sad. 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, and for others it last 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 ready 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 a different pet will bring to your life.