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Losing a Pet is Like Losing any Loved One

Anyone who has allowed a pet to become a part of their life understands that a pet is a member of your family. When you lose that pet, whether unexpectedly or from old age, it does not change the fact that a hole has been left in your life. You still need to take the time to grieve your loss until someday, you feel able to celebrate your pet's life.

Unfortunately, many people do not understand your grief, and their lack of understanding may cause them to inadvertently hurt you further.They may do this by acting as though the pet never existed and your grief is not real, or by making the suggestion that it was just a dog, cat, ferret, or whatever and can be replaced.

If you've ever loved a pet, you know that they cannot "just be replaced", much like a person cannot be replaced. I'd like to offer some suggestions that may help you in your grieving process:

  • Do not try to rush yourself through the grief process. Telling yourself that it was just a pet and you shouldn't feel this way just invalidates your feelings and makes you feel worse. Accept your grief and understand that only time will heal you.

  • If you are not comfortable doing so, do not rush to get rid of everything that may remind you of your pet. Sometimes removing everything that reminds us of the pet that has shared our life for years just makes the emptiness seem larger.

  • Seek out others who understand how you feel. Many people understand what you are feeling, and an ear and a box of tissues will make you feel better.

  • If you don't know anyone to talk to, look online. There are forums for pet owners who have a pet waiting at the Rainbow Bridge.

  • Make a picture collage to celebrate your pet's life. You can include pictures from every stage of your pet's life as a reminder of the good times you've shared with your pet.

  • Write a letter to your pet. Include all the things about your pet that you loved and will miss.

  • Light a candle to your pet.  On our resources page, there is a link to a website where you can light a "virtual candle" for free. You may find comfort by doing this.

  • Buy a picture pet urn or memory box. If you cremate your pet. you can store the ashes in it. If you do not cremate your pet, or if you scatter the ashes, you can store a favorite ball or leash inside to create a memorial to your pet. It doesn't have to be expensive to be attractive.

  • When you are ready to bring another pet into your life, it may be better to get a different breed. The new pet will never replace the one that you lost. It will have it's own unique personality and you will enjoy the bonding process more if you are not comparing it to your previous pet.

  • Believe that you will see your pet again someday. If Heaven is where there is no sorrow, your beloved pet will be there.

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