What To Expect When Your Pet Dies

Pets. We all seem to have them and they mean various things to each of us. Maybe you see your dog as your companion, someone to share your life experiences with; but the next person sees his dog as a work dog who needs to earn his keep by safe-guarding the family and the family home. Maybe you are a mixture of both. But when your pet dies, there are going to be feelings you need to understand and deal with.No matter how you view your pet, when that pet dies it will leave you with a profound sense of loss and sadness. Death is hard for even the most rational person to deal with, but when the death is your pet, you may lose your ability to think rationally. Most people feel that their pets are members of their families and their whole family grieves when the pet dies.Everyone experiences grief differently. We all know people who lose pets and seem to “just take it all in stride”. You never see them saddened or down. Then there is the person who simply falls apart at the loss of their beloved baby. We’ve all seen it. Maybe we’ve even been in that role ourselves a time or two.The rest of the world may not understand why you are having such a problem. After all, it was just a….dog….cat….pet. Haven’t you heard that before? Or your boss tells you to “just get over it” when you are upset at work. Unfortunately, the loss of a pet is extremely stressful and can have long-term effects on a person’s sense of well-being. You need to give yourself permission to experience grief and sadness. You need to know that it really is okay to be angry at your loss and saddened by your pets absence. You may even feel overwhelmed by circumstances if the loss of a pet coincides with some other traumatic experience.Grief is a process and it can last a short time, like a day or two, or it may take quite some time. It is not out of the normal to experience symptoms of grief up to a year after the event. So treat yourself and your family gently. Remember, your children may be experiencing death first-hand for the very first time. They will need your support and guidance to navigate through their fears and feelings.The only thing that will help you is for time to pass. Usually, getting another pet is not the answer; but once you have processed your feelings of loss you may begin to think of getting another pet–not to replace your lost friend but to keep you company in your time of loss.One thing you can do for yourself and your family is to make arrangements for your pet to be cremated or buried in a place you will be able to visit. If you opt for cremation, you will need to find an urn or container that you can use to keep your pet’s remains safe. If you decide burial is the way to go, you may wish to purchase a small plaque to serve as a marker to the grave. That way, you and your family can always find the spot when you feel the need to visit.Whatever you decide, you need to understand that suffering the loss of a pet is a trauma and will require time for you to heal. You will be angry, sad, tearful and various other emotions. You need to allow yourself to experience them and then move on. Your pet gave you unconditional love and acceptance. You have a right to grieve that loss.

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