How is it possible that I am sadder with the loss of my dog than with the loss of close family members?
For many people, the love and companionship of a pet may be the only, or certainly the strongest, bond of unconditional love they have experienced. It is also possible, like many of my clients, that you have been strong and practical while caring for ailing parents or friends. Suddenly though, your best friend and closest companion is dying and it is the last straw on a pile of buried emotions. It may be that your pet was your “safe place to go and soft spot to land.” While there is no discredit to the sadness you felt from the loss of a family member, the undeniable bond that you had with your pet can create a different set of emotions that the brain has a harder time coping with.
I feel like I am going crazy. Am I ever going to feel normal again?
Yes, you will feel emotionally better but different than before. You will eventually remember and rejoice in the many happy times you had with your pet. You will be able to reflect on the many life lessons you shared. As you begin to adjust to life with the absence of your pet, you may still have times that are more difficult than others. That is OK. The relationship you had with your pet may have been the strongest, closest relationship in your life. Time truly is the best cure to the hurt and pain you may feel today and with each passing day the pain will lessen but the memories will remain forever.
How long will I grieve my pet?
All of our emotions are individual. When we love deeply, we grieve deeply. That deep grief can mean that it might take a little while to grieve the loss of that relationship. Though it might be hard and seem like it will never get better, with each second you are learning to cope and from that each day should be a little better. You may not feel better right away, but the small moments of happiness will eventually join together and you will be able to return to a happier place. Grief coaches often say that it takes about a year before your loss isn’t the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think about at night. There will be triggers that will catch you off guard and you will feel a wave of sadness. But focusing on the good times will make this transition to life without your best friend easier.
My dog is really old and in very poor health, should I spend more money on trying to make him/her better?
That is such a personal decision that should be made with you, your pet, and your vet. Sit on the floor quietly holding your pet in your lap. Tell him/her how much you love them and ask what they want you to do. Now, be very quiet and listen to what comes into your mind and your heart. It is my belief that our animals can communicate with us with thoughts and gestures. If you pet is in pain or diminishing quality of life, they may be ready to cross the rainbow bridge.
I am already grieving and my pet is not even sick, she is just getting older and going blind, is this normal?
This is called “anticipatory grief” and many feel it when coping with a terminally ill loved one. Your head knows that death is coming soon, but the heart is still trying to prepare for the loss. Some will even feel a relief when the death occurs and their loved one is out of pain. Enjoying and appreciating the moments that you have with them right now will help you when the time does come to say goodbye.
I feel so guilty about having my pet euthanized. What can I do?
Recognize that your dog had what is called a “good death” that is free of unnecessary pain, suffering, and fear. It takes place in the presence of compassionate and loving friends and family.
What do they do when they put my dog/cat to sleep?
I have developed a free report that explains how and why euthanasia is done. Check it out here.
How do I explain the death of our pet to our children?
Please check out one of my latest books How to Explain Death, Loss, & Grief to Children at www.ArtichokePress.com
Will our other pet grieve and be lonely?
Yes, studies and our own experience show that sibling animals mourn the loss of the family member as well. This is also a free report you can claim.
Should I have some sort of memorial for my pet?
Yes. Memorials, tributes, and celebrations of their life make it easier for you, and your family, to move on. I recommend www.BioUrn4Pets.com as an outstanding way to memorialize your pet for years to come.
I am afraid I might forget my pet or be disloyal by getting a new pet.
Many people feel this way. One way of maintaining the memories of your pet is to commission a “Tribute Tale” of your pet. Judy Helm Wright, who is also a trained Personal Historian, will interview you for the story and then compile the story with photos into a 30 to 50-paged hard bound book published in full color. This is a living legacy of the bond of love you shared.
What do I say to a friend whose pet is aging or dying?
I have developed a report on this subject. As important as it is to say the right thing, it is equally important to not say the wrong thing. Many friends are so nervous about what to say and do, they do nothing! That hurts the very most. Please check out my full report.