When A Pet Dies

Since so many of you who follow my work are also animal lovers, I thought I would take one of my periodic rides off the topic of narcissism to talk about animals.

On this day in 2007, my first cat, Magic, died, & this post is my way to honor him.  He died quietly in my arms after living with heart problems for 3 years.  I wondered sometimes after he died if his death was going to kill me.  He was my furry soulmate & best friend.  I went through life on auto pilot for quite some time after his death.  Yes, I was glad Magic was healthy again & with God, but even that didn’t console me.  I wanted my special guy back & knowing that wasn’t going to happen was incredibly painful & hard to accept.

My feelings & experiences aren’t unique.  Many animal lovers suffer greatly when their beloved pet dies.  I have some suggestions to help you get through that awful time.

Accept that you never will “get over” losing your baby.  Instead, you need to adapt to a new life without your loved one.  There is no easy way to do this.  Take it one step at a time.

Grief takes time, so don’t rush yourself or berate yourself for not “being over” it yet.  The more you try to rush the grief process, the longer it will end up taking.

Cry.  Admittedly, that sounds like common sense, but often a reminder is necessary.  You just lost someone you love dearly, & need to cry.  There is absolutely no shame in this!

When reminders of your lost one happen, feel your grief at that time rather than ignore it.  Yes, it’s hard when it suddenly hits you that this is the usual time you gave your baby his medicine & now you don’t have to do it, but ignoring that sadness only hurts you more.  Feeling the pain enables you to process it.

Be careful who you talk to about your experiences & pain.  Not everyone feels the same way you do about animals.  This means that whether intentional or not, some people can say insensitive & invalidating comments.  They will hurt worse when you’re already hurting, so use wisdom on who you talk to.

Don’t rush out & adopt a new pet immediately.  Adopting another pet may be just what you need to help you get through your grief.  Or, it may be a painful reminder that your loved one is no longer with you.  Some people adopt another pet who resembles the one who recently passed, unconsciously expecting the new pet to act like the old one, then are disappointed when that doesn’t happen.  If you wish to honor your departed one by adopting another pet, seriously think about it first.  Then only adopt another if you feel strongly in your heart it is a good move for you at the time.

If you don’t journal, now may be the perfect time to start.  Write out your feelings.  Write about your memories of good times shared with your pet.  It will help you to write these things out.

Create some type of memorial to your pet.  Make a small garden at your pet’s grave.  Or, start a scrapbook of pictures of your pet, preferably including plenty of you two together.  If you make jewelry, you can make an item that reminds you of your pet.  You can include a picture, a tuft of fur or some of your pet’s cremated ashes in a tiny urn.

Most importantly, talk to God.  I have asked Him for comfort, to help me accept my loss & even to tell my departed loved ones that I love & miss them.  Not once has He said no or I shouldn’t do this, so I assume that means it’s ok.  And, many times after asking that, I have had dreams about my loved ones.  I don’t believe that the dead can technically enter our dreams, but I do believe that God gives us dreams about them when we need them.  Maybe they ask Him to make that happen, I’m unsure, but in any case, those dreams can be very comforting & wonderful.

Although it may not seem like it right after losing your beloved pet, you will survive.  In time, you will smile instead of cry once again when you think of your loved one.  xoxo

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Filed under Animals, Mental Health

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