Nothing can compare with the deep sadness and feeling of loss that accompanies the passing of a pet. Even though most of us know that we won’t outlive our pets, the loss of the familiar face, personality, and daily interaction can be devastating.
Unfortunately, our society doesn’t take the grief and trauma of pet loss as seriously as it should. So when the time comes to say goodbye to our pet, it can feel as if there is no support and few resources for processing our sadness.
At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, we’ve found that taking the time to to honor your pet in a way that is meaningful to you as well as seeking support where you need it can help your family cope and adjust.
Healing After Pet Loss
Allowing time to process your feelings after the loss of a pet is not only ok, it should be honored. We’ve helped many pet owners with this process and are happy to pass along some ideas. Here are some things you can do.
- Don’t be afraid to grieve in any way you need. Feelings of anger, denial, sadness, and guilt are all a normal part of the grieving process.
- Reach out to friends, family and your community for support
- If it feels right to you, seek out one of the many local and national pet bereavement support groups.
- Call the pet loss support hotline at the veterinary school Tufts to speak to a caring, non-judgemental individual who understands pet loss and grief.
- If you have unanswered questions about your pet’s death, reach out to your veterinarian. Sometimes feelings of guilt can be alleviated by understanding how your pet died.
Honoring Your Pet
Sometimes doing something to honor your pet can be beneficial, especially for children. Here are some ideas for creating a memorial to your pet.
- Frame a picture and create a special space in your home to remember your pet.
- Light a candle for your pet or release a balloon, and talk about fond memories.
- Make a scrapbook or memorial box with pictures and mementos of your pet.
- Hold a memorial service for your pet with friends and family
- Plant a tree or a plant in your garden, in memory of your pet.
- Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue group, or make a donation in your pet’s name. When you’re ready, return to the shelter to adopt your next pet.
Please know that your team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is here to support you during this difficult time. If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us.