Coping isn’t easy when your dog is your most enthusiastic welcome after a long day at work. And, they know it too. They hear your car pull in the driveway and by the time you’ve unlocked and opened the door—there they sit. Tails wagging, eyes bright, and I swear a smile on their muzzle. They’re part of what makes a house a home and you wouldn’t want it any other way. However, one day—they’re just gone.
And, that is a crushing day. So…now what?
Grieving is a highly individualized experience. Some may follow the traditional stages of feeling denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance and resolution. Others may just feel the sorrow in waves. These are all factors in the coping process.
Coping Takes Time
This process will be gradual and isn’t something that can be hurried. The best way through the pain is to be patient with yourself. Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
Just as grieving is an individual experience, so is the help.
Some find it beneficial to talk to a friend about their loss. Others may seek comfort from those who are also coping with the death of a pet with support groups and online message boards. Others take a more private approach. Choosing rather write down their feelings than discuss it with others.
Whichever way you choose, make sure to release your feelings in a safe environment and reach out for help if needed.
As hard as it may be, try and maintain your normal daily routine during your coping process.
This part is especially important if you have other pets or young children. Routines are comforting to both. They reassure that everything will eventually be okay. They are also familiar. Changing them may cause unrest and further anxiety. A change in routine may also cause further sorrow.
For some children, this may be their first experience of death. With the loss comes an opportunity to teach them about death, grieving, and eventually being loyal and loving to another.
This opportunity should not be frightening. It’s important to reassure them why the pet has died. This helps them rationalize that they are not to blame. It also may help with any worry that other beloved pets will soon die as well.
How you react to the death of your pet also signals how your child should respond. Let them go through the same grieving process. Let them express sorrow, create a legacy, and be involved in the process. This open honesty is the best way to set up a healthy coping environment now and in the future.
Commemorate Their Memory
Creating a legacy of some sort is reassuring that their memory lives on and is honored. This can be anything that suits their personality. It might be compiling a photo album, planting a tree, or even a small grave marker.
A New Pet
The final stage that can help in your coping is getting a new pet. Before you choose a new dog, it is important to take your time. A new member of the family should only be introduced at the right time and after the intense sorrow and grief has passed. This allows you to give the proper care and love to your new pet.
It is also important to evaluate which dog breed works best with your family. This may not be the same breed you had before. If your energy level, living situation, or family dynamic has changed—the suitable dog breed may also have altered.
We hope that some of these tips may help you through the coping process.