Recognise that not everyone deals with grief in the same way, so you may find that some of the following tips may be of value to you, others not. But I hope you find some ideas to help you through a difficult time and for those not currently dealing with the loss of a pet, bookmark this article, as you never know when you may need it.
Give yourself permission to grieve
Non-pet lovers may say things like “it was only a pet!” or “you can always get another one!” But recognise that grieving for the loss of a pet is natural. Ignore the statements from ignorant people. For anyone who has lost a pet that they love dearly it’s okay to be sad, cry, take some time off work if necessary. When I have lost dogs in the past I have been very upset for a long time and for many months or even years afterwards when I think of them I will feel sadness.
Take your time
Please do not think or feel pressure that you need to “ get over it” in a hurry. Allow the healing process to take it’s course! Accepting the loss is not something to be rushed and hiding our feelings is neither healthy nor helpful!
Talk about your pet!
Find friends or family members, or even a support group who are caring and understanding, or who have suffered a similar loss and talk to them. Talking about your pet and the happy times you shared can be extremely helpful. Remember what you loved about them, the cute things they did and the wonderful memories you have. You will find many support groups on-line or in Facebook groups who will completely understand what you are feeling because they have lost pets too.
Capture your memories
This is where your pet photographer comes in! Hopefully you are reading this before you have lost your best friend because once they are gone it is too late! Get wonderful photographs taken of your pet throughout their lives. Find a photographer who will capture your dog or cat’s personality, so you will always have cherished memories! When they pass on, looking over these images can be so comforting. You may decide to make some wall art from the most cherished images, or a wonderful photobook that is always on hand when you wish to remember your pet!
Hold a ceremony
Some type of ceremony is often helpful. This may be a simple as saying a few words to yourself, to inviting friends over to remember your dog or cat, or scattering their ashes in a special place.
The important thing is that you get to say your goodbyes. For some of my dogs I opted to have a private cremation so that I could get the ashes back. Another is buried in a dog cemetery where I was able to say my goodbyes.
Don’t feel you have to rush in to getting another pet. Perhaps volunteer at an animal shelter for a while to get your pet “fix” but feel good about helping others in need!
Get a rescue animal
You will know when the time is right to get another pet. When that time comes consider rescuing a pet from a shelter or rescue organization. From the loss of one pet, so much happiness can be brought to another who may be sent to a kill shelter or who has been abandoned. There is something about helping another that is tremendously uplifting. Remember that you will always love the pet you lost but you have so much love in your heart to give to another!
Read The Rainbow Bridge poem
The Rainbow Bridge poem by an unknown author, is commonly shared among the pet owning community. It stems from the premise that when our pets die, they go to a wonderful, happy place called the “rainbow bridge” where they wait for us. The words are extremely heartening and have helped many, including myself, to express their feelings and feel comfort.
"Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together."