A dog lover frequently becomes as attached to her pet as she does a human being. When your dog dies, it can hurt so much that you just want to find a quick way to stop the painful feelings of grief. However, understand that grief occurs in five different stages: denial, anger, guilt, depression and finally acceptance. The duration of each stage varies by the individual and must run its course. In the meantime you can take measures to cope more effectively with the loss.
Express your feelings honestly among family and friends. Many times people feel like they have to downplay their grief because it is a dog who has died and not a human being. Your dog was an important aspect of your life. She was your friend and confidant and maybe even the only living being who accepted and loved you unconditionally. Allow yourself to be angry or cry. Don’t let anyone make you feel silly for experiencing the pain of such a significant loss.
Choose a way to memorialize your dog that will facilitate closure. You may find comfort in knowing your dog is buried under a favorite tree in your backyard, or you might opt to have her cremated and placed in an urn to keep indoors. There are also pet cemeteries for a more formal approach. Visit the grave site if it brings you comfort.
Contact a pet loss support group where you live or on the Internet. Talking about your grief with someone experiencing the same loss will help you to deal with the emotions you are experiencing. As you work through the process, don’t be surprised if some days are better than others. For example, it is completely normal to walk into a room where your dog frequented and initially expect to see her. You might also accidentally call out her name. Forgive yourself for these natural lapses.
Sort through all stages of grief before you consider getting another dog. Well-meaning friends may encourage you to replace the dog who has died to speed the mourning process. However, if you are not emotionally ready to forge a new dog relationship, you may not give the new dog the attention she deserves, and you may possibly end up resenting her presence. Wait until your heart has healed.
- If you have children, be honest but gentle when giving them the sad news.
- Be mindful of your basic physical and psychological needs by eating properly and socializing with supportive friends.
- Your other pets may experience depression at the death of your dog too, so don't overlook their need for extra attention.
- Many times, people form extra strong bonds with their dogs if other areas of their lives are in turmoil. If you feel that you are not recovering at a healthy pace, visit a family therapist to deal with these underlying issues.
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