It’s easy to be peaceful and compassionate when life is going well, but when trouble comes, healing can be hard to find.
Last week, I experienced what every animal lover fears – the death of a pet. I adopted Skip at the age of 10 and we spent the next 7 years enjoying life together. He was always doing comical things and made me laugh every day. I always joked that Skip was a big dog in a little body, but I don’t think I realized the size of his energy. Even though I live with two other dogs, the house now seems very quiet.
Animal lovers hurt to the bone when we have to say good-bye, but not everyone understands the pain of losing a pet. Because of this, we sometimes feel isolated and alone in our grief. It becomes very important to take care of yourself during these dark moments.
- Give yourself time to heal and to mourn.
- Don’t try to force the healing process.
- Be patient with the pace of recovery.
- Be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.
- Learn to reconnect to uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
Remember, your feelings are normal. You may feel angry, like you are out of control or that you will never be happy again. You may feel numb and in shock, but what you are experiencing is grief. What ever you are feeling, don’t judge it. It is how you are processing the grief.
Find a friend or other safe person to talk about your feelings. If you don’t have someone to talk to, write your feelings out in your journal. Let the words flow without editing. It’s important to express how you are feeling at this time.
Do whatever it takes to create a feeling of safety and tranquility in your immediate environment. Do something to honor your pet: plug in a nightlight, plant a tree, or display items of your pet in a window box. Doing something special to preserve the memory of your beloved pet can be very therapeutic.
As much as possible, resume your normal activities and routines. A death can throw you into a state of chaos and the sooner you resume your normal activities and routines, the more normal life will feel.
Remember, you are grieving and in a recovery process. It’s different for everyone, so be patient with yourself. It’s important to take care of your health so be sure to rest, eat nutritious food and exercise. Healing takes time. You will have your ups and downs as you go through the grieving process but by honoring your feelings and your pet, it will be easier to focus on the happy memories you shared with your pet.