Coping with losing a pet isn't easy. People may say that it's only an animal, but anyone who has lost a beloved pet knows that you feel devastated. The grief can be every bit as strong as losing a person. I lost one of my cats a year ago and it left me heartbroken. So here are some tips on coping with losing a pet …
1. Happy Memories
When you're coping with losing a pet, try to think of the many happy memories you have of the years you spent together. Look at photos of them (everyone has hundreds of photos of their pets now), and watch videos you've recorded. It'll remind you of their amusing little quirks and all the things they did to make you laugh.
2. Good Home
Be proud of yourself that you gave your pet a good home for the time they lived with you. Not all animals are that lucky. Even if you didn't have your pet very long, and they'd been treated badly before they came to you, you can be comforted by knowing that they were loved and wanted at the end of their life.
3. Acknowledge the Loss
Don't put on a brave face and pretend you're fine; you've suffered a loss and need to let the sadness run its course. Talk about your pet, and tell people how you're feeling if they ask. If you try to carry on as if nothing has happened, you'll only bury your grief - and that will have to come out at some point.
It can also help to have a memento of your pet. You could have a photo enlarged and framed, or have their name tag set into a piece of jewellery. Some people also find it a comfort to make a memorial in their garden for their pet, or even to hold a funeral service for them.
5. It Takes Time
Expect it to take time for you to come to terms with the loss of your beloved pet. There's no set time that this should take; everybody mourns in their own way. You won't just 'get over it', as people sometimes tell you. The emotional pain of losing a pet you loved deeply is very real and you need time to mourn.
6. Help Other Animals
You may not want to adopt another animal straight away, but it can be a comfort to volunteer your time to help animals, for example helping at a shelter. This allows you to be around animals without making the commitment that adoption entails. It feels comforting to know that you are doing some good for other animals, as if you were paying tribute to your pet.
7. When You're Ready …
You'll know if or when you're ready to adopt another animal. Some people aren't ready for a long time; others simply can't be without a pet for long. The new arrival will never replace the pet you lost, but it's very rewarding to know that you have given a home to another animal in need of one.
Pets are such an important part of our lives that they leave a huge gap when they're gone. I miss my cat very much, and know another cat can't replace her, but when the time is right I definitely plan to adopt again. Do you have any unusual pets?