10 Self-Care Essentials While Grieving The Loss Of A Pet
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Many of us have a strong attachment to our animal companions. For us, a pet is more than “just a dog” or “just a rabbit,” but rather a treasured member of our family who brings us company, laughter, and joy.
A pet may help you overcome setbacks and problems in life, offer structure to your day, keep you active and social, and even provide a feeling of meaning or purpose.
So, when a beloved pet dies, it’s natural to be overcome with grief and loss.
Losing a pet is sad, stressful, and overwhelming. Make sure you take care of your body, mind, and soul.
Also Read: How To Comfort A Dying Hamster?
The agony of loss can be overwhelming, eliciting a range of painful and difficult emotions.
While some others may not comprehend the depth of your feelings for your pet, you should never feel guilty or humiliated over the loss of an animal companion.
The 10 self-care essentials that I found useful while grieving the loss of my pet are:
- Allow yourself to Grieve
- Maintain your daily routines
- Do not let others tell you how to feel
- Reflect on your pet and the time spent with them
- prepare yourself for special occasions at your place
- Choose a calming practice and use it frequently
- Memorialise the memory of your pet
- Seek External support
- Let it go- Just let Go
- Try to avoid making major life decisions while you are grieving
1. Allow Yourself to Grieve
Grief is a deeply personal experience.
Some individuals believe that sorrow after the loss of a pet occurs in phases, with distinct emotions such as denial, anger, guilt, melancholy, and finally acceptance and resolution. Others report that their sorrow is cyclical, occurring in waves or as a succession of highs and lows.
The lows are likely to be deeper and longer at first, then become shorter and less powerful as time passes.
Even years after a loss, a sight, a sound, or a special anniversary might spark memories that cause intense pain.
It is natural to feel upset, surprised, or lonely after losing a cherished pet.
Exhibiting these feelings does not imply that you are weak or that your feelings are misdirected. It simply implies that you are mourning the loss of a beloved animal, and you should not feel ashamed.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However, when it comes to it, simply embrace it.
Ignoring the pain or preventing it from surfacing may lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and/or health problems when those feelings eventually catch up with you and believe me, they will.
So, in order for healing to occur, grief must be confronted and actively dealt with. Don’t ignore it!…
After I lost Juno(Our pet Rabbit), there were times when I was fine and others when I was very sad and needed to cry.
In times of deep sadness, I allowed myself to cry. I allow myself to be moved by emotion. Once it was out of my system, I felt like I could go about my business until the sadness struck again.
The times I felt low were more frequent and longer in the beginning, but as time passed, the low times became less frequent and shorter.
I can’t help but think that if I had repressed those intensely sad feelings, they would have accumulated and eventually overwhelmed me. This has the potential to send me into a state of depression.
2. Reflect on your pet and the time spent with them
Writing and talking to others helped me clear my mind, deal with my emotions, release my anger and frustration, and reflect on and come to terms with the loss of my beloved Juno..
Juno died of a cat attack in our own backyard at the age of one. I was angry and frustrated with the owner of the cat a few days after his death because
I felt they let the cat out roaming freely( while it’s against Council laws in Victoria Australia to leave your pets wandering around on the streets) that attacked our Juno the Rabbit.
In retrospect, I believe my rage, frustration, and desire to blame someone for his death were all part of the grieving process.
Also Read: Why parakeets die suddenly- Explained
Death by shock is common in rabbits as they are very scary creatures, even if you shout Loudly they can die of shock.
Writing and talking also allowed me to remember Juno as the happy, energetic Rabbit that he was, rather than the frightened rabbit that he was.
3. Maintain your daily routines
As simple as this sounds, it may be one of the most difficult things for you. This is especially true if your routine included going for a walk with your best friend.
Keeping a routine, on the other hand, will help you feel more in control, and calmer, and will ensure you meet your basic needs such as sleeping, eating, exercising, and so on.
One thing I found extremely useful was making a chart of everything that was going to happen on my day.
The chart should include the days of the week as well as the time.
The idea is to include everything you do during the day: when you wake up, when you go to bed, your commute time to work, your time at work, meal times, household chores, exercise, meeting with family and friends, and so on.
4. Don’t let other people dictate how or when you are able to work through your grief process
People may say things like, “but it was just an animal,” “you can get another one,” or “you need to move on.”
These individuals may make you feel judged and/or embarrassed for displaying or expressing your grief.
They have no idea what you are going through, most likely because they have never been through it themselves.
Keep a safe distance from these people. They will only aggravate your situation. Instead, surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.
Also Read: IS MY DOG SAD?How to tell and What to do.
Do not allow others to tell you how you should feel. Your grief is yours, and no one should be allowed to tell you how long it should last or when it is time to “move on.”
Attend grief support groups, seek out friends and/or family members who have gone through it, or at the very least seek out people who are open to the idea that grieving for a lost pet is as natural as grieving for a human companion.
Coping with the loss of a pet when others dismiss your grief:
One factor that can make grieving for the loss of a pet difficult is that pet loss is not universally accepted. “What’s the big deal?” some friends and relatives may ask. It’s only a pet!” Some people believe that pet loss should not be as painful as human loss, or that it is wrong to weep for an animal.
They may not comprehend since they do not own a pet or are unable to appreciate the companionship and love that a pet may bring.
- Don’t fight with others about whether or not your mourning is appropriate.
- Accept that the best support for your grieving may come from those who aren’t in your regular network of friends and relatives.
- Seek out individuals who have lost dogs; those who may understand the enormity of your loss and may be able to offer advice on how to get through the mourning process.
5. Prepare yourself for special occasions at your place
Getting a new dog or cat following the death of a previous pet
There are numerous compelling reasons to reintroduce a companion animal into your life, but the timing is entirely up to you.
It may be tempting to hurry out and purchase another pet to fill the emptiness left by your pet’s loss.
Most of the time, it’s preferable to mourn the previous pet first, and then wait until you’re emotionally prepared to open your heart and home to a new animal.
You could begin by volunteering at a shelter or rescue organisation. Spending time caring for needy pets is not only beneficial to the animals, but it can also help you determine if you’re ready to get a new pet.
Make an effort to find new meaning and excitement in your life. Previously, caring for a pet engaged your time and enhanced your mood and optimism.
Fill that time by volunteering, picking up a long-forgotten pastime, taking a class, assisting friends, rescue groups, or homeless shelters with their animals, or even obtaining another pet when the time is appropriate.
6. Choose a calming practice and use it frequently
When I lost Juno, I found the following two calming practices to be helpful:
Breath focus – the goal of this technique is to take long, slow, deep breaths through your nose while letting all of the air out through your mouth. The muscular emotion should come from your stomach, not your chest.
I recommend putting one hand in your chest and the other in your belly until you’ve mastered this. Your belly hand should rise, while your chest hand should move very little.
I like this technique because it is simple to learn, can be done anywhere, and provides a quick way to reduce stress.
Please keep in mind that this technique may not be suitable for people who have difficulty breathing.
Mindfulness meditation – The goal of this practice is to bring your attention to the present moment, leaving the past and future behind. To bring yourself out of your thoughts and into the present moment:
Locate a quiet and comfortable spot to sit.
Close your eyes and concentrate on something, such as your breathing.
Concentrate on the sensation of air flowing into and out of your nostrils, or the sensation of your belly rising and falling.
7. Memorialise the memory of your pet
Humans have many rituals for mourning the loss of a loved one, but there are none for mourning the death of a pet.
Some pet owners hold funerals, burials, or cremations for their pets. Others display framed images in a prominent location or donate to a favourite animal charity.
Some people, however, take things to a whole new level in their search for a dog memorial monument.
Here are Five creative ways that dog owners have honoured the loss of a canine, ranging from the unusual to the truly bizarre.
Make diamonds out of dust. Several companies will use carbon that has been burned to extraordinarily high temperatures to transform your dog’s ashes into lab-created diamonds.
In most situations, you can choose the size, cut, and colour of the stone, as well as having it incorporated into a piece of jewellery.
From the Ashes to the ink. Have you ever contemplated having a tattoo of your dog on your body? Some tattoo artists may incorporate your dog’s ashes with the ink to make it even more intimate.
You can create jewellery out of a tooth. Several jewellers will develop a cast of your dog’s tooth and then construct a silver copy that may be worn as a necklace or bracelet.
Clone your pet! Bizzare Huh! Its true The recent discovery that Barbra Streisand had her Coton de Tulear Samantha cloned has reignited public interest in this advanced scientific method.
If you find it comforting to know that your favourite pet’s DNA will continue on — and you have around $50,000 — you can clone him like Streisand.
You can Order a felted facsimile. You’ve most likely heard of knitted things made from dog fur. This is also a great way to get children involved in saying goodbye and, as a result, help them work through their grief.
Here are some memorial ideas:
Consider planting a tree. If you want to bury your loved one’s ashes beneath a tree, proceed with caution.
This (the tree) may not survive due to the pH levels of the ashes.
Here is the article I wrote are pet ashes good for plants?
The article discusses how to work around pH levels so that the ashes can be buried.
Alternatively, a living urn can be used. These urns are intended to allow a tree to grow while containing the ashes.
- Make a scrapbook or a photo album.
- Organise a Pet memorial service.
- Create an obituary for your local newspaper or social media.
8. Seek External and professional support
As simple as this may sound, asking for help can be difficult for most people without feeling guilty, apologetic, weak, selfish, burdensome, or as if you have to send ten follow-up texts saying “Thanks Again!!!!!”.
Obtaining support from family, friends, fellow mourners, or professional counsellors, on the other hand, is critical, as this support will have a significant impact on your healing.
So, reach out for help and let others take care of you. You never know what might happen, so
9. Let it go- Just let Go
When Juno died, I felt guilty for not taking him on longer walks more often, for leaving him at home while I was at work, and for occasionally becoming frustrated with him. I’ll replay in my mind what I did or didn’t do, what I said or didn’t say, over and over.
It is critical for your healing process to let go of everything you did or did not do, say or did not say.
I am not claiming that this will be a simple process. That sense of guilt is a normal part of the grieving process.
Recognising and remembering the wonderful life you provided for him/her, on the other hand, may aid in the process of letting go.
10. Try to avoid making major life decisions while you grieving
Grieving is one of the most stressful events a person can go through, and the stress can cloud your judgement.
As a result, if you are faced with a major life-change decision that cannot be postponed for 6 months to a year, consider discussing your plans with a trusted family member or friend.
Having a conversation with someone who has your best interests at heart can often help you gain a better sense of perspective and realise that the situation is not as urgent as it appears to you.
If you feel you want to keep your Pet Ashes next to you and feel that can help you grieve better – Here is what you can do.
Pet Ash can be stored in many ways: I have listed a few items that can be purchased from Amazon.
- Stainless steel Bullet Necklace
- Small Pet Urns
- Urn Necklace
- Hand Created pet Urns for dogs and cats Ash
- Urn Necklaces for pet Ash
Do not compare how you heal to how you perceive others to heal. Healing, like grief, is a unique experience and journey for each person. There is no right or wrong way to heal; there is only your way!
Comparing will not help you, but will instead stress you out.
Your grieving and healing process will take as long as it needs to, and that is perfectly fine. Take your time.
About the Author: I m Ash and created this blog, to provide practical advice and emotional comfort for those dealing with pet loss.
Ash Vohra – Pet Lifestyle Blogger