Death – we all don’t like to talk about it; especially, when we are personally faced with it. And when we have a friend or family member faced with it, many of us feel like we do not know what to say or do.
What is appropriate? These are issues I personally face each day as General Manager of Eden Memorial Pet Care, where I help people through their grieving process when they have lost a pet.
For many of us, our pets are our family and going through the loss of a pet can be extremely emotional.
Our pets in many ways are eternal children, who depend on us for food, love, and shelter. And what do they give us in return?
Our pets give us nothing but unconditional love. So how do we deal with our grief when they are no longer with us?
The thing to remember is that grief is individual. For one person grieving might entail talking about their pet and sharing stories; but to another grieving might be pulling the covers over their head and crying.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There is also no time frame. I have clients that have grieved in a matter of weeks and others that are still having hard days after one year.
What is important in the grieving process is to grieve at your own pace and do what feels right to you.
You might recognize yourself going through the following steps of grief, they include:
- Shock, Denial, and Disbelief
- Spiritual Bargaining
- Acceptance and Recovery
Some helpful ways to get through these steps may include:
- Talking about your pet with friends, family, or counselor/priest
- Going through photos
- Reading and learning from others going through pet loss
- Joining a “pet loss” support group or creating your own
- Memorializing your pet
This may include:
- Having a spiritual ceremony
- Creating a memorial head stone for the burial site
- Creating a memorial plaque for an urn and/or wall
- If you chose cremation for your pet; spreading the ashes in a special place
- Choosing a place in your home for a photo and special poem
Some people might find it hard to understand how one can be so emotional after losing an animal.
But in many cases, people have a harder time grieving a loss of a pet versus grieving a human family member or friend…and feel guilty for it.
For those of us who have a friend or family member struggling with this difficult time, assisting them in any way through this process can be helpful.
The best way to lend a hand is to listen. Many people, who are mourning, just need to talk and have a good shoulder to cry on.
Here are some other ways to help:
- Refer above and make suggestions or offer to aid in memorializing their pet
- Let them know you care
This is an extremely difficult and sensitive time.
If you are the one who has lost your pet and/or helping a friend or family member through this time, just know that it is completely normal to grieve.
It is alright to mourn in any way you choose or for any amount of time. You will get through it and do not do it alone…there is someone out there to listen.
Christine Johnson is General Manger of Eden Memorial Pet Care, which specializes in pet cremation services As the daughter of a veterinarian, she finds her passion in helping people, especially those who have recently experienced the loss of a dog, cat or other pet.
Copyright 2006 Christine Johnson. All rights reserved.