Posts Tagged ‘death’

5 things to do when you lose a pet.

I’m sorry. It stinks to lose a friend. And though I usually like things that stink, not this. But please take it from this dog (who has a lot of cat friends): We pets don’t want to lose you, either–and we hope we “go” first.

Here are 5 suggestions psychologists make to those who are grieving the loss of a furry friend.

Basset angel5. Express yourself. It’s normal. The pain might be more or less intense than you thought it would be. That’s okay. Talk, cry, scream, pound the floor; do what helps you the most. Write in a journal. Make a poem. Put up a free online memorial, if it strikes you. Your pet wasn’t just an animal; he/she was part of your family. Don’t try to avoid feeling pain by not thinking about your pet. The more you can walk through this–the slower you can take yourself–the faster the pain will subside. And it will. It will. It will. Give it time.

4. Listen to music and move your body. Note: you don’t have to do those simultaneously. If you don’t like dancing, run. If you don’t like running, walk. If you don’t like walking, jazzercise. But whatever you do, start listening to music. Anything you want. Rock, pop, classical, hair metal– if it feels right, do it.

3. Surround yourself with people who care. There are pet loss support groupscat angel and counselors in your area, message boards and chat rooms. People who say “It was just a pet” or “You can get another one” don’t understand– similar to people who say to someone who loses a leg– “You have another one.” Their intention is to make you feel better, but what you need right now is someone who understands.

Pet loss support groups and individual counselors

Pet loss message boards

Pet loss chat rooms:

2. If you’re unable to move, get help immediately. Sadness and grief is normal. Depression is an illness, but there’s treatment. Can’t get out of bed? Don’t feel like life is worth living? Your brain is playing tricks on you; please just call the 24/7 National Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273-8255.

1. When you’re ready, if your lifestyle supports it, adopt another pet– one that won’t outlive you, either. No cringing; you can do this. You can’t tell me that the pain you’re feeling now is greater than– or will overtake– the joy and the love you experienced with your pet. Now, what do I mean by “if your lifestyle supports it”? That is, don’t get another pet now if you want to make a big change– e.g., move to a smaller place in the city, have a new baby, try a new venture that will take 120 hours/week, get major surgery, travel the world. (Except that last one. If it’s in an RV, most of my friends and I would really dig that.)

Additional Resources:

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement: An extensive organization offering free services to anyone who has lost or will soon lose a pet.  Their chatrooms are hosted by kind folks who are experienced and trained in grief, and they offer information on assisting kids through this time, too.

“Grief and the Loss of a Pet” by Dr. Holly Nash: An article detailing the stages of grief, the different ways grief can be expressed, and information on helping the elderly who’ve lost a pet.

“Coping with the Loss of a Pet” by Dr. Jeff Feinman: Provides age-specific help for children in coping with the loss of a pet.

Free Pet e-cards: Send one to a grieving friend.

Pet Loss books: Though these are not a substitute for talking with others, they can be a great help. Also a good thing to send to a grieving friend.

Do you have other resources? Please share.

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