Losing a dog is pain in the heart. It is not just losing a dog rather it’s about losing a family member. It brings us sorrow and misery and it feels so heavy in the heart. We have all lost a precious one in our lives. It can be a family member, a relative, a friend, a neighbor, a pet. As much as we try to be happy, we often leave ourselves stuck on reminiscing precious memories with them. Healing is hard to master, that’s the truth. Moreover, it’s not easy to overcome pain.
As family members to our pet, we also have different types of coping strategies. According to Psychology Today, the death of loved one, whether animal or human, is emotionally painful. For children, the loss of a pet may be the child's first experience with death. Young kids may be confused, sad and depressed, believing that others he or she cares for may be taken away too. Trying to protect a child from grief by saying the dog or cat ran away could lead to feelings of betrayal or hopelessness. Pet-grief specialists and vets recommend that expressing your own grief may be the best way to reassure the child that sadness over the loss of a pet is okay.
Older adults on the other hand may be particularly hard hit by the death of a treasured pet. Seniors, confronting their own health and mortality issues coupled with the financial responsibilities of keeping a pet may be overcome by profound loneliness but hesitant to get another pet. Alternatives to full-time pet ownership may be good choices for older adults. Volunteering at the pet shelter, serving as a foster parent to a sick animal or pet sitting may be a great way for a senior to have pet interaction.
Here are some suggestions to cope with the loss of your pet:
- Acknowledge the grief and give yourself the "ok" to express it
- Surround yourself with supportive people who understand the pet-owner bond
- Talk about your feelings in a journal
- Build a memorial to your pet
- Tell a funny story about your pet
- Contribute to a blog or Internet site to help yourself and other anguished pet owners
- Call the vet and ask about pet loss support groups. Or form your own support group
- Call a pet loss hotline number
- Think and wait before adopting a new pet. During emotional upheaval the drive to adopt a new pet may be powerful but according to experts this feeling should be resisted until the initial sadness as ebbed.
We understand if you’re having a hard time moving on to the death of your buddy. Moving on takes time. It cannot be done overnight. It also involves certain efforts to help you accept the loss of your pet. One thing to consider is memorializing or honoring you pet and this could be done in many ways. Here are some from Daily Treat:
1. Write an Obituary
A thoughtful journey through documenting your dog’s life may be the mental walk you need. Consider human obits in the newspaper: When were they born, or when did you bring them home? Did they have canine achievements? Favorite events, parks, food, ball? Favorite furry friends? Whose lives did they touch beyond yours? Who are they survived by? You could post this online, have someone with beautiful handwriting write it out in frame-worthy fashion, or just keep it in your box or drawer of special memories
2. Pet Cemetery
If you retain the ashes or form of your fallen friend, you may choose to create a space in your backyard, or the family home, and actually have a spot that draws a visit—and fond memories—from time to time. This may feel maudlin for some and hinder moving on, but for others it’s no different from having a final resting place for our human loved ones. You can top it with a headstone, sign, or garden stone. Like my friend, most pet parents will likely face a few of these moments in life, so think now about how more than one might fit into a memorial garden or area as life brings seasons of birth and passing. Or maybe you just want them to rest at that spot by the fence where they always barked at the mailman.
3. Hold a Memorial Service
Invite the right mix of friends and family—those who get it, those who loved you and your pet and will bring the right level of comfort and respect—and hold a service in your home, backyard, or somewhere special. Perhaps the two of you had a special song, or a particular tune reminds you of them. Have the right friends share their thoughts about your mutual friend, or their memories of the two of you together.
4. Plant New Life from Theirs
Whether it’s the actual spot where they’re buried or just symbolic, select a plant or tree that can grow from their passing, new life from old, a living vestige of your fondness for this wonderful animal that now, in a new way, continues to grow.
5. Create a Book of Life
There are numerous places to have photobooks created. Their soul may not truly be captured in photos, but the spirit reflected in them can grace your coffee table or bookshelf. The selection process alone—of puppy pictures to those duo selfies you took of the two of you with your smartphone—will recall the best of times, and crafting captions and adding descriptions will make it a story to share with kids and dog lovers for years to come.
6. Collaborative Online Memorial
If photobooks sound old school, we have 21st-century collaborative technology to create a shared space for friends and family to contribute. Ask friends to look through photos for pics of you two, then add them to Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. You might discover forgotten memories others have captured throughout the years, and even see you and your companion through the eyes and lenses of others.
7. Website or Blog
When the final day of black Labrador Duke Roberts was turned into a blog by her pet parents, it went viral with shared tears. If you know the day is coming for your dog and can create a blog or website like I Died Today, that may be a way to bring both closure and commemoration. Since many times we don’t know or plan the day, simply planning to create a “Life of ___” page may be the way to go. Even if you’re not very web savvy, WordPress and other blog sites provide simple ways a way to create a living, online testament to their life.
8. Video Reflections
Opening up a book or pulling up a website may not provide a simple, concise way to take that trip down memory lane. If you have bits of video and pictures that can be assembled into a 2-3 minute video, you can add a song that captures the essence of your dog and use Windows MovieMaker or iMovie to create a video. (If you, another family member or friend aren’t up to the task, there are services that will produce it for you). Upload it to Youtube, and if you’re passing the dog park and waxing nostalgic, you can pause and refresh that season of life with a poignant, audio-visual rush of emotions.
9. Commissioned Art or Plaque
It’s not glib to say that since your dog was a fixture in your life and home for so long, a permanent fixture in that home may be a way to pass by each day and bring a warm smile of remembrance to bear. Whether it’s a pooch plaque with paws and an engraving, or whether you commission a painting that actually employs the ashes of your pet in the mix, this may be the depiction you need.
10. Canine Contributions
Perhaps a way to best memorialize your pet and find your own footsteps forward is to pay it forward, canine-style. The options are wide open: Did they love to play with kids? Did you get them from a local animal shelter? Did they suffer from a canine malady that is under research? You could fund something general or specific. A charitable contribution in their name could be a way to attach them to a final act of unconditional love.
There’s actually a wide variety of things to honor your pet. You can involve the things that you love, your daily activities and your favorites. Be creative, the best thing to do after being broken is having fun. Our buddies may be gone but their memories stay with us forever!