Dealing with Grief: Pet Loss
By Randi Morse
My family has always had pets ever since I can remember. There are photos of me with a tiny kitten and small puppy when I was just barely old enough to walk. Pets can bring amazing joy into your life and can be a great help in beating back stress and fatigue. The only upsetting thing about owning a pet is that our lifespan far outlives theirs. This means that we become the entire life for our pet, and losing a pet can be devastating.
Grieving is Natural
Don't allow anyone to tell you that it's not natural to grieve for your pet. Your pet, no matter whether it was a cat, dog, snake, horse, or any other type of creature, was a part of your family and a part of your life. It's natural to grieve their loss. Everyone grieves differently, and you may find that you thought you were feeling good only to start bawling while you're standing in the pet food aisle of your local grocery store. This is OK and it's completely normal. Allow yourself to grieve.
The easy access to cell phones makes taking spontaneous photos easy, and if you're like most pet parents you probably have tons of photos of your pet either in your social media accounts, stored in the cloud, or on your cell phone. Why not make a photo album to remember your beloved pet by? You can choose to print the photos and put them into a photo album or scrapbook, or you can do an entire album digitally. Making an album allows you to relive those happy moments you had together.
This is a difficult subject to handle because there are many who think that you should not get another pet soon after you lose the first one, while there are those who find that the hole in their heart is filled with the addiction of a new four-legged family member. It's a very personal choice but the best piece of advice I've ever gotten is to listen to your heart. Your heart will tell you when you're ready to add another family member, don't listen to anyone who tells you it's too soon if you're sure that adding a pet is the right move for you.
When my 12-year-old malamute passed away, my neighbor commented that the pain I was feeling was why she never wanted to get a dog. Yes, I'd have a few months of feeling horrible, I told her, but I had 12 years of wonderful, which meant the world to me.
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