Dealing With the Loss of a Petby Megan Smith
Pets are considered to be, in many households, just as important as any other member of the family. If you have recently suffered the loss of a pet, you most likely are exhausted and feel like you are alone. You can miss work if you experience a death in the family, but your coworkers may not understand if you need to take a day off due to your pet passing away. Fortunately, your family can be your support system during this difficult time.
Telling Your Children
Explaining to your children that your beloved pet is not going to be coming back can be an incredibly difficult conversation. Sit your child down in a quiet area where there are no outside distractions. Put your hand on your child's leg or back and speak from the heart. Try to explain, depending on your child's age, that sometimes pets get sick and, depending on your beliefs, that if they get very sick, they go to heaven. Tell your child that it is okay to cry and it is okay to feel sad. Monitor your child closely after the death of your pet. You may notice your child seems withdrawn, does not want to play or may not be hungry. Do not be alarmed at first, because this is all part of the grieving process. If it has been weeks since your pet's death, however, and your child still seems very withdrawn, you may want to take him or her to a child psychologist to talk about the loss.
Dealing With Your Loss
Children aren't the only ones who suffer from the loss of a pet. If you are especially close to your pet, you may feel you have lost your only companion. This can be a depressing feeling, especially knowing that your pet has always been there for you during good times and bad. Make a memorial for your pet in the backyard or at a pet cemetery. If you feel comfortable having other family members and friends attend, invite them. If you would rather hold the memorial alone, that is okay, too. Think some good thoughts about your pet and say a few words. Write a poem or story if you want, and try to remember some of the best times you had with your pet. Although it is perfectly fine to grieve for weeks or even months, you might feel better after holding a memorial service. If you find the depression is getting in the way of your everyday activities, try a homeopathic medication in consultation with your doctor. If you feel the depression is still unbearable, see a psychologist for talk therapy and grief counseling.
When the Time is Right
When the time is right, you and your family may consider adopting a new pet. Although no pet will ever replace your old pet, there may be a time that you start to miss the joy of animal companionship you once had. Do not feel guilty or like you are letting your pet down. You know that your pet would want you to be happy, and if he could, he would be right there with you, showing your new pet a good home. Make sure that everyone in your family is ready to get a new pet. It's very important that you talk to every member of the family and make sure everyone is in the same mind frame. If you bring a pet home too soon, you risk a member of your family feeling left out because they are not yet ready to accept a new pet. Explain to younger children that although you will always miss your old pet, your new pet would want your family to be happy.