Dealing with the death of a beloved pet can be devastating. We’re here to help you cope…
Losing a four-legged friend is one of the toughest situations you may ever face. A dog is never “just a dog”. They’re a member of the family – a best friend who has been loyal, loving and supportive. The dog-shaped hole they leave behind when they die can be just as painful and devastating to deal with as the loss of a person.
For most people, their dog is more than just a pet. For others, their dog is a lifeline. Therapy, service and working dogs support their owner to live a full and happy life. Losing a dog that’s supported you to get through each and every day can be a double blow. Not only have you lost your best mate, but you’ve also lost the best canine colleague or carer you’ll ever have.
Grieving For Your Dog
It’s completely normal to feel deep grief when your dog dies. Everyone experiences grief differently so it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it. We all cope with death in our own ways.
Grieving happens gradually. Your grief journey is as individual as you are but many people who are dealing with a loss experience these feelings:
- Denial. You may initially refuse to believe that your dog has died. This is your body’s way of protecting you from feeling overwhelmed as you try to process the shock and emotions that crash over you.
- Sadness. You can feel a deep sadness that you will never see your beloved pet again.
- Numb. Many people feel numbness after a death. You may feel unable to express sadness.
- Anger. You may feel angry at your dog for dying and leaving you.
- Relief. You may feel a sense of relief at your dog’s passing, especially if they were in poor health for some time, or in pain.
- Scared and/or shocked. The news of your pet’s death may have come as a great shock to you, or you may feel frightened about what lies ahead.
Coping With Losing A Dog
Everyone copes differently but you may find one or more of these suggestions helpful for managing your grief. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should be feeling – this is your journey and you need to do it your way. Sometimes, it can help to hold a burial service or to plant a tree in honour of the memory of your beloved pet. You could also:
- Make a scrapbook filled with all your favourite photos of your dog.
- Speak to friends who have lost pets. Ask them how they coped and if they have any advice.
- Make a fuss of surviving pets, especially those who may feel the loss as much as you do, such as another dog or a cat.
- Talk about your dog and the nice memories you have of time spent together. It can feel difficult and painful at first but it gets easier the more you do it. It can also help to think about all the funny or naughty things your dog did when they were alive, to giggle about that time your dog chewed your homework or peed on your sister’s new dress. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Don’t forget to look after yourself by getting plenty of sleep and eating healthily. Recovering and moving on after grief takes time and isn’t always straightforward. Be patient and kind to yourself.
For more help and advice on dealing with grief, click here.