Often times, it takes one to experience a loss to fully realise that death indeed is a true thing that comes to all. In a world where many deem grieving over a pet’s death to be overly sentimental or emotionally weak, research has shown that a pet’s death can be as traumatic as losing a beloved human. At times, even more than that.
Feelings of guilt
No matter what was the cause of death, most pet owners feel liable. This is only because they are solely responsible for their well-being and would have done anything for the sake of their happiness. Nonetheless, death is a lone ranger. And there was nothing more you could have done to bring back your child. And of course, he or she has lived a great life with you. Rest easy.
Tears and triggers
Grief is a process. A long process. To deal with it, pain must be felt. Never hold back from crying. Your loss is truly tragic and may your pet rest in peace, however, bottling up your feelings is not a healthy choice for the long run. It must be overwhelming to think how everything else goes on. One day you’re fine, but the next day someone’s new pet or a pet’s birthday could trigger a massive flow of tears. But it is normal and everyone who’s had a loss goes through it.
Their sudden absence can feel like a giant hole in the heart. Live out the moments time to time through storytelling, writing or conversing. This will allow you to shift to a mode of gratitude and tranquillity. Memorialise your pet. Store away something. It could be Baxter’s collar tag, Lucy’s laser toy or Loki’s sea shell from the tank. There is no right way to do this. You could spend some time in your pet’s favourite spot or visit the grave. Some, as strange as it may sound, even immortalise their companions through the art of taxidermy.
Keeping up the usual
It is easy to fall prey to the disruption of routine. Maybe you worked out when you walked your dog. Maybe you woke up early to feed your ravenous cats and get a good head start for the day. Try keeping up the dailies and check off chores from the list. Other pets/playmates in the house will certainly feel the absence and will exhibit behavioural changes as their own way to cope. Thus, it is vital to maintain their feeding times and such during this time of stress.
Many non-pet owners may find your reaction to be exaggerating. Do not be surprised when they say “We’ll get you another dog” or “It’s just a fish”. Understand that they fail to comprehend the special bond you two shared. In any case, these people should not be ones you lean on for comfort. You can always politely address them saying they are not helping. Feel free to walk away from any negativity. Call a friend, talk to them, share the most beautiful memories of your pet and ask them about theirs.