Written by Senior Editor Peter Gehr
If your loss was sudden or gradual the fact that you no longer have your beloved dog can be difficult. The first thing to be said is that I fully understand your grief, and it is natural and normal to be saddened by the parting of your four-legged companion. If you are reading this article because you have just lost your dog, then I do sympathize with you, and offer heartfelt condolences. These best puppy bereavement tips: 10 steps for dealing with the loss of a pet have been complied to help you through the grieving process.
We all have different emotional responses and the intensity of those responses can depend on your personality, experience, culture, spirituality and general attitude. How you respond is a personal thing, and no one needs to tell you how to react, as this is purely your experience, your loss and your heart. These tips are merely to help you during the recovery and healing period after the passing.
Best Puppy Bereavement Tips: 10 Steps for Dealing with the Loss of a Pet
Pets become a member of the family, and in a lot of cases where the owner is single, or for a couple who no longer have children living with them, the dog is most certainly like a child and companion with very strong emotional ties.
This is where it’s important to let yourself emote and express your loss. Tears are a good way of letting yourself go and being free to let the heartbreak be expressed. I’ve seen even the toughest of males weeping over the loss of his dog, and this is truly the most natural human response and one that should not be suppressed.
If your pet is failing in health and you are aware of the inevitable, this is a good time to vocalize your feelings and express your gratefulness for the unconditional love your dog has given over his/her lifetime, and communicating this to family members and friends. This can help in assuring yourself that you’ve had the opportunity to say everything you wanted to say before your pet passes—which can be a big help in bringing closure as the end draws near. This also gives you and your family time to celebrate your pet’s life by keeping the communication open and freely discussing the inevitable at specified times rather than constantly talking about it.
Keeping a framed photo of the dog (when it was younger and in good health) will help remind you of your pet and to continue reinforcing the bond you shared and the good and heartfelt memories that remain.
4. Talk to Others
Communicating with someone you know who has also lost a pet can be helpful in that they can empathize and share their story, as well as listen to yours.
5. Conduct a Ceremony
Having a ceremony can offer an opportunity to close this chapter in your life. I’ve always believed that pets are given as companions to touch our hearts, and to break our hearts. If children are involved, this gives you an opportunity for them to either say something, read a poem or quotation, or lay some flowers of a wreath if it’s too difficult for them to articulate or speak in front of others. If you are spiritual and have a faith that can be incorporated into the service—all the better. This is a platform for a dignified departure and can be a fond memory too.
6. Offer a Memorial
If you have the opportunity and space, plant a tree or shrub dedicated to your departed pooch.
7. Stay Focused
Losing a pet changes your schedule, your daily routine, your commitment to caring for your dog is no longer there. Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of sadness and loss, try to stay focused on yourself and your mental and physical well-being. It’s understandable to feel sad, and to miss your companion, but at the same time, the best healing practice is to look at the wonderful time you had and treasure the memories and moments as part of life’s journey. Avoid depression by honoring the memory of a truly loving companion.
8. Keep Socializing
Friends will be a strength during this time, so let them continue being part of your life and make an extra effort to maintain normalcy and social connectivity.
9. Start Something New
One of the best positive reinforcements for you is going to be associated with the fact that things have now changed. The reason for going for a walk has gone, and exercise is going to remain important for you. You can either go somewhere different (if possible) walk in a different direction and don’t follow the same route. Being that there is now a natural change in your life, it’s a good time to consider a new hobby or new activity.
10. A New Pet
This may not be an option for you in the beginning, and this may take some time to accept such a possibility. However, as a former pet owner you obviously love dogs and have taken care of a dog for a long time and appreciate their companionship. Therefore, when the time comes when you have settled emotionally and are prepared for a new puppy, that joy can be renewed. It’s understood that a new puppy is not going to replace your departed pet, and it’s not meant to be a substitute, but is more a new challenge and new life in your home.
I do hope that these best puppy bereavement tips: 10 steps for dealing with the loss of a pet assist you through what can be a very emotional and saddening event. Our pets are special to us, and as the path of life continues, we can only cope with the gains and the losses as best we can, and there’s no one size fits all advice to offer someone who has lost a pet as we are all different and no two situations or personalities are the same.