How to Deal With Grief From the Death of a Pet

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We often devote years of our lives to grooming, feeding and enjoying our beloved pets, and the loss of these animals can leave us in despair. Pet owners may become so despondent that they begin neglecting themselves, work or the household. Young children may avoid school or cry frequently. Though it may take weeks or months, families can rebuild their lives as they work through the grief process. Painful memories of a lost pet may soon become cherished ones.

  • Recognize that your grief is real and it is OK to feel upset, angry and confused, suggests the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It might help to write about your feelings or to create a collage or other creative work dedicated to your lost pet.

  • Remember to provide for your needs and the needs of your children as you start this new phase in your lives. Get plenty of rest and eat regularly to maintain your energy and strength. Enlist family members and friends if you need their help with errands or housework.

  • Explain your pet's death and the grief process to your children, suggests KidsHealth, a child development site. Let them express their emotions and their anger, and let them see your sorrow and grief. Explain to your kids that sadness and anger are normal, and that you are willing to talk about a lost pet whenever they feel ready.

  • Talk to family members and friends about your loss, says the Humane Society of the United States. It might help to hear how others handled the loss of a pet or to exchange fond stories of Fluffy's entertaining behavior around the house.

  • Create a memorial or prepare a grave to honor your pet, advises the ASPCA. You and your children might enjoy making picture collages for your pet's memorial or writing poems dedicated to your pet's memory. Let the kids play a role in creating the memorial or funeral. Remember that grief can extend long beyond a funeral, and it is OK to still be upset and angry months later.

  • Contact your local humane society to see if it offers any pet loss support groups in your community, says the Humane Society of the United States. Talking with others experiencing the same situation can provide support and comfort.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you or someone you know is struggling with grief after losing a pet, call the ASPCA's Pet Loss Hot Line at 877-GRIEF-10 (877-474-3310). The hot line can also give parents advice on how to help children through the grief process.

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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