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How can I Cope with Grief for a Pet?

Article Details
  • Written By: G. Melanson
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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For many animal lovers, the death of a pet is the loss of a family member. If you’re experiencing grief for a pet, there are coping strategies such as sharing your feelings, reaching out for support and memorializing your pet, which can help you through the grieving process. When dealing with grief for a pet, it’s important to have compassion for yourself and to not be ashamed of the depth of your emotions. Some people may try to suppress their feelings for fear of being judged. Unfortunately, hiding your emotions can actually prolong the grieving process, making it even more painful and emotionally unhealthy in the long run.

One of the first steps to take in dealing with grief for a pet is to talk to other friends and family members who also loved your pet. Chances are, their feelings are similar to your own, and they can understand the specific things you may miss about your pet. They may also wish to share some of their own memories and feelings.

If you don’t feel comfortable opening up about your grief with family and friends, there are also a number of resources for support available online. There are online support groups, as well as websites that can put you in touch with support groups in your area. You can also connect with others virtually through message boards, email lists, or social networking groups created for people who are grieving their pets.

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The rituals associated with memorializing a loss can go a long way in helping you cope with grief for a pet. A small, personal service can be of great benefit in helping to bring you closure. Dedicating a special physical space to your pet’s memory can also help — whether that translates to a burial space, a photo album with pictures of your pet, or a framed photo and poem in a special place in your home. You could also plant a tree or garden in memory of your pet, or make a donation in your pet’s name to an animal shelter or other animal-related charity. The simple act of creating something through which your pet’s memory can live on can help bring healing.

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