As a pet parent, you know that your beloved pet is as much a member of your family as your human counterparts. Therefore, it is normal for the loss of a beloved service animal or animal companion to trigger the same feelings of grief and sadness as any major loss would elicit. In fact, the intense feelings of loss may surprise you and some may even have trouble understanding how you can exhibit such strong emotions for the loss of “a pet”. The reality is, Loss is Loss and the feelings you are having are normal and valid! The connection we have and the love we both give to and receive from our animal companions is real and therefore it is natural to grieve over such a loss.
Coping with that grief can be difficult. The loss of a pet can manifest in many ways such as felling like you’re in a “haze”, sleep issues, changes in your eating habits, daily routines, depression, tiredness or difficulty focusing. You may find yourself dealing with the death of your pet in unexpected ways. In addition, the other animals in your home may deal with this loss through exhibiting similar behaviors as listed above. Here are some quick tips to help you through the grieving process.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
First, accept that grieving the loss of a beloved animal companion is absolutely normal and allow yourself time to grieve. Each person responds to loss differently - crying, guilt, anger, reminiscing, or reaching out for comfort are all ways to cope with the loss of a pet. Often times, the feelings of loss come in waves. It may take many weeks or months to go through the grieving process. No matter how long it takes, allow yourself to express your emotions.
Unfortunately, it is common for colleagues, friends, and family to not fully understand your loss. In such cases, it might be helpful to turn to people who understand the bond you had with your animal companion. This is a good time to turn to friend or family member who feels the same way about pets as you do. Also, support groups, a counselor or other pet los resource are available to help cope with your grief.