Pet Loss Advice
When your pet dies, you have the right to grieve however you need to and for as long as you need to.
Tips for Greiving Your Loss
1. Give yourself permission and the time to grieve in the way you need to.
2. You need to re-learn how to be in the world without your pet. This is a big adjustment.
3. Cry when you need to. Emotional tears release toxins from the body. Crying is good for you.
4. Express yourself. Talk to someone who understand, join a pet loss support group, or journal. You need to find the words to help you process your emotions.
Continuing bonds is a phrase from the title of a book, edited by Klass, Silverman and Nickman. After extensive research, to me this means finding ways to honor the memory of a loved one in a way that is respectful and healthy. It's a means of carrying their memory forward with us in a meaningful way.
Here are some ideas:
1. Make a scrapbook or photo montage of your pet.
2. Use their collar around the base of a pot of a plant.
3. If they collected sticks, you can arrange them in a large vase.
How to Help Someone
Don't tell the person it was just a dog (cat, horse, bird, etc.). As my grandmother taught me, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
Do, if possible, acknowledge the person's loss. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, once again, follow my grandmother's advice.
Don't ask when they are getting another dog (cat, horse, bird, etc.). The person is grieving the loss of a pet, not looking for a replacement. One pet can never be replaced with another.
Do ask if they think they could/would ever get another pet. Give the person time to grieve before asking this. And by asking this, you are acknowledging the importance of having a pet in his or her life.
Don't tell them about every pet you've ever loved and lost. It may feel like you are reaching out and bonding with the person, but this can sound like you are making the conversation about yourself, not them.
Do talk to them in general terms about how difficult it is to lose a pet and how important they are in our lives. And if the person wants to talk about their loss, let them. Just listen. Sometimes that's what they need most.