Man’s Best Friend: How to Cope with the Loss of a Beloved Pet

By: VGFS
Monday, January 18, 2021

Losing a cherished animal is incredibly painful for most pet owners. These furry friends are considered part of the family and they see us through life’s most challenging times.

The relationship we have with them is pure and unconditional, which is why their passing can be so traumatic. Read on for some helpful advice to aid you in recovering from the passing of a treasured animal companion.

The stages of grief are often the same as losing a beloved family member or friend.

It comes in waves and you will likely experience similar stages of denial, anger, guilt, depression, and finally, acceptance. Following the loss of a pet, it is not unusual for symptoms of acute grief to last for several months.

Permit yourself to grieve.

Trying to suppress your sorrow or pretending it doesn't exist will only intensify the pain down the road. There is no reason why you should be expected to ‘move on’. Allow yourself as much time as you need to mourn your loss and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if it’s needed. Grief counselors are trained to help people cope with major life losses and pets are no exception.

Forgive yourself.

Many pet owners experience tremendous guilt. Perhaps you couldn't be around your companion as much as you would have liked due to the demands of your job. Or maybe you moved out of your childhood home and couldn’t take your pet with you. Whatever your situation, accept that you did the best you could with what life presented you. If there are things you wish you could change, learn from them and vow to do better in the future.

Consider creating a special place of honor.

Sometimes it helps to fashion a place inside or outside of your home where you can go to fondly remember your pet—a spot in the garden where your dog loved to bury his bones or a favorite window where your cat enjoyed watching the birds. Although recalling him or her may be painful at first, eventually that ache will turn into sweet cherished memories.

Remember that your surviving pets need attention, too.

If you have other animals, they may also be grieving the loss of their companion. You might notice sluggishness, decreased appetite, or a lack of interest in their normal activities. It’s important that you maintain your pets’ feeding schedules and give them extra love and affection.

Take care of yourself.

Make sure you get the rest and nutrition you need, even if you feel disinterested or distracted. Put aside a little bit of time each day for quiet de-stressing activities, such as meditating or reading. Your concentration may be impaired, so take extra care while driving and crossing the street. Remember that grief is a normal process and time really does bring healing.

Know that you are not alone.

Your family and friends want to support you along your grief journey, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them. It is very important to be able to express the sorrow you feel about the loss of your treasured animal companion. He or she may be gone from your life but will always remain close in your heart.

There is never a ‘good’ time to say goodbye to a beloved pet. The caring professionals at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services understand your heartbreak. If you need additional resources or support, please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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