There’s no other way to describe it. The death of a pet is heartbreaking. You’ve lost a member of the family, and while non-pet-owners may scoff, the sense of loss is very, very real.
People own animals for lots of reasons. A pet is a companion, a protector, a friendly furry or feathered face when the rest of the world seems heartless. A pet can also be a service animal that provides valuable, life-sustaining support to someone who needs it.
Because pets are so important to our lives and families, when your pet is suddenly gone, there is an undeniable void. You may experience the same seven stages of grief you feel when a fellow human dies, according to Recoverfromgrief.com. Shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, working through it all lead to the final step, acceptance and hope. Don’t let anyone diminish the depth of your feelings.
Experts agree; allow yourself to experience every stage, and while you’re powering through, reach out to others who understand and support your feelings. Friends, family members, and others who share your love and memories of your fur baby will be there for you.
If you feel your grief is overwhelming, reach out for professional assistance. This is important. Taking care of yourself is important to your recovery. The people in your life do not want you to suffer any more than you already have.
There are counselors in every community who won’t judge your pain. They understand as humans we rely on each other for support. If you work, your employer may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that makes confidential counseling services available to you at no cost. Check out churches and grief centers, too. There are pet support groups led by trained mental health professionals. Ask at your local pet shop, too, especially locally or family owned enterprises. You will find you are not alone in your struggles.
There are online support groups that allow you to memorialize your pet and express your love through poetry and art. These nonverbal expressions may be the most powerful of all.