The loss of a pet can be a very difficult experience for many people. Especially in our society, pets are so much more than an animal that lives in a person’s home. So often, pets are a part of the family. They offer emotional support and sometimes their company is preferred to that of a human friend or family member.
Coping With the Grief
The very nature of the relationship between humans and their pets can sometimes complicate the experience of a pet dying. For example, the human pet owners may have to make a decision about whether or not to euthanize the pet due to terminal illness or injury. This type of decision-making that occurs at the end of a pet’s life can bring up complicated feelings in a pet owner, including grief, loneliness, sadness, and sometimes guilt.
After a pet dies, you will probably experience sadness and a sense of missing your pet. Many people find themselves looking for their pet when they get home from work, only to remember the sad reality of what has happened. In order to deal with the grief and sadness, it can be helpful to share memories of your pet with others who knew and loved him or her too. Looking back on old pictures and reminiscing about the good times you had with your pet can also be a sad but helpful way to mourn your loss.
Dealing With Guilt
If you are feeling guilty about any decisions you had to make at the end of your pet’s life, talk about it with your support system and try to frame the experience in a way that you can be more content with. For example, if you had to make the choice to euthanize your pet due to illness, focus on the fact that you gave them an ending that was comfortable and painless, rather than the alternative.
As always, if you find that your negative emotions are becoming too difficult to deal with, or not going away with time, counseling is an option. Working with a counselor on feelings surrounding the death of a pet can help you gain clarity on what you need to do to heal from this loss. If you are considering speaking with a counselor about your feelings surrounding the loss of a pet, contact The Light Program today.