Whether we see it coming or not, the pain in our heart feels the same. We find ourselves wondering why dogs’ time on Earth is so short compared to ours. Everybody’s process of accepting grief is different. Try to cut yourself some slack as you learn about the ways that work best for you to cope with your dog’s passing. There’s no right way when it comes to how to grieve the loss of your dog—but some things may help.
Gather Some Belongings
It can difficult to start grieving when everything is so fresh and it appears as though your pup is just out for the day. You can take as much time as you need to throw out, donate, or pack away your lost dog’s belongings. Consider gathering them into a box or a central location.
Senior pet supplies, favorite toys, and other reminiscent objects and equipment can be stored until you’re ready to see them. Sometimes a little distance between you and the efforts you made to help with quality of life can be hard to look at. Perhaps, when you’re ready, supplies and beloved toys can be passed down to another treasured dog. For anything you need in the future, Walkin’ Pets is here to supply anything from braces to splints to harnesses.
Make Time To Grieve
Life is busy; even when spending a lot of time at home in quarantine there’s plenty to keep us occupied. Getting distracted is a double-edged sword. Be sure to give yourself time to grieve. Misplaced feelings of sorrow can quickly mutate into feelings of anger if not dealt with.
Let yourself experience the emotions as they come. As with any death of a loved one, there will be good days and bad ones. The worst thing would be to cram the emotions down because you feel as though you lack the time to feel them.
Reflect On Memories
Reflection can be just as painful as it is cathartic. Unfortunately, in the stages of grief, you’re going to have times of anger and depression before acceptance. Choosing to reflect on positive memories rather than the hard times will be a saving grace. In bargaining, we consider the things we could’ve done differently, and it can make us sick.
In the end, what’s done is done and you did what you thought was best. When rehashing times past you need to maintain a level of positivity and acceptance. Try to reflect upon the good times you had with your dog. Allow the emotions that accompany your memories. Even tears of joy and appreciation are healing.
Take Care of Yourself
In high-stress situations, it can be easy to shift our attention toward others and forget about ourselves. It may again be distracting for a while, but putting yourself on the backburner isn’t helpful. Grief can cause loss of appetite and other issues that keep us from meeting our most basic of needs. When you eat, choose nutritious foods that will help fuel you.
The range of emotions you’re feeling is already draining. Ensuring you’re staying fed and hydrated is essential. It may be difficult to sleep, but it’s important that you attempt to maintain a sleep schedule and bedtime routine to help you unwind and rest your mind and body.
Practice Calming Techniques
Other ways of unwinding or decompressing include seeking ways to calming yourself, your thoughts, and your body. Life doesn’t slow down when things happen, so it’s necessary that you make the time to implement calming practices, breathing exercises, or meditation.
We aren’t typically granted time off from work when we lose pets as if we lost a human family member. The tension associated with pressing on when everything feels gray can be intense. Calming practices paired with self-care can help reduce your anxiety and guide you through your days.
Be Present for Living Animals
It can be difficult to be present and available for your living animals. You may look at them and be flooded with memories of your lost pet or be thinking uneasily about their eventually death and how badly that will hurt. The reality is that they are still here, and they need you. Try not to be too distant from them—they may not understand what’s happened, but they can certainly feel your energy.
Being there for them and embracing them allows them to be there for you, too. The emotional support is important and so are the obligations you have to them. Be sure to maintain feeding schedules and do your best not to disrupt their lives and routines at this time. Show them care. It can be very stressful for them when they don’t understand what’s going on and why their owner is sad.
Memorialize Your Pet
A crucial step in moving forward is having closure for our lost loved ones. Memorialize your pet in a way that lets you feel as though you got to say goodbye. We don’t always get the opportunity at the end of their lives. This can be a very important part of accepting grief. Some people are able to get a paw imprint, others choose to bring their pets home to bury so they can visit their grave, some choose cremation and keep the ashes in a cherished place.
A collar, a tag, precious ashes—whatever makes you feel close to your departed dog is what’s right for you. Having a place to pay tribute to your old friend can be very healing. Whichever way you choose to memorialize your pet will be best.
Seek Support From Others
One thing that can be very helpful—but difficult to do in times of grief—is lean on others. Understanding friends and relatives can lend comfort, support, and a listening ear if you allow them. Never hesitate to seek support when you’re in need. The people around you are aware of the pain you’re feeling and can help you through the times of high anxiety and pain.
If you’re having trouble opening up or leaning on someone in your life, support groups online allow you a safe space to express your feelings and seek support from peers. Sometimes sharing memories of your dog (even with strangers) can be an emotional release.
Grief is different for everyone and the order in which the stages are met changes. You may find yourself one day feeling acceptance and the next back in denial. There is so much encompassed in how to grieve the loss of your dog. Nothing lasts forever which means that with time, your intense pain will dissipate and become more manageable. The intensity of your grief will pass but you are allowed to always feel a bit of sadness for your lost loved one. Knowing what a loving dog parent you were and how you can still touch the lives of other dogs in need is a beautiful thing.