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How to Handle the Loss of a Pet

January 19, 2018

shutterstock_767739640-300x200 How to Handle the Loss of a PetPets are part of the family, and when a pet passes away it can be a difficult time for your family. AERA is here to help you get through this time with some tips for coping with the loss of a pet.

Coping with the Loss of a Pet

If your pet passes away, grief is completely normal and everyone grieves differently. Take your time to process the death of your pet, then work your way through your grieving process. The only way to heal is to appropriately process and work through it.

Allow yourself to remember the memories you made with your cat or dog while they were with you. Let yourself feel both happiness and sadness. It may benefit you to look at photos of your pet or write about your experiences with your pet.

Adjust your life as necessary. If you are now a household without pets, you may want to restructure your workout schedule or morning routine. For example, if you used to walk your dog at 5:30 p.m. every day, maybe use that time to read, take a class, or cook dinner. Use the new free time in your life for something else that is productive.

If you have other pets, however, you should try to stay on the same schedule. Pets can also feel loss when another pet dies. Your sadness may also affect your other pets. Keeping pets on their normal routine will help both you and your surviving pets cope and move through the grief. Plus, these pets will still need your love and attention, too.

Let others support you in this tough time. Many people will understand what you are going through, and can help you in your grief. Pets are family, and grieving the loss of a pet is something that most people will do at some point in their lives. Don’t be ashamed to lean on those around you for support and guidance. Going to pet loss support groups or seeing a psychologist may help you work through the grief you feel as well.

Don’t rush into getting another pet. Give yourself time to heal before you consider bringing a new pet into the household. Moving on too soon can lead to frustration with the new pet, and it can be hard for you to properly care for a new pet if you are still grieving.

If you feel that you are really struggling to cope with the loss of your pet, we encourage you to consult with our friends over at Day By Day Pet Caregiver Support. This incredible organization offers a wide variety of resources and services to help you work through your grief including a phone hotline, support groups, and more.

Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Pet

If you have children, this can be an especially sensitive time in your household. This may be the first time your child has experienced loss, and that can be very stressful. Showing your child that feelings of grief and sadness are okay is a great way to teach them to cope with loss.

Patience is also important, as children aren’t yet equipped with the emotional maturity that adults have during situations like death. Try to find ways to reduce the trauma your child is feeling. It may be a good idea to have your child speak to a professional about loss and dealing with the feelings and emotions that they have during times of loss.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends being honest with children about the whereabouts of family pets. It can lead to more questions and confusing feelings for your children when they discover the truth. Instead, involve them in the process of saying goodbye and explain to them what happened and why.

The team at AERA can provide you with resources and support to help you cope with the loss of your pet. If you have any questions for a veterinarian, give AERA a call at 973-788-0500.