This week we lost our beloved dog Ginger. Having had several pets throughout my life I was unprepared for the overwhelming grief that losing a young dog would bring. Like other people, I had been guilty of thinking ‘Oh it’s only a dog / cat / hamster’ when other people lost their animals but this week I realised that it’s not what you love the counts but how much you love.
Losing an animal, like losing a relationship or losing someone close to you, will propel you into stages of grief. Feeling deep sadness when a pet dies is natural. Intense bonds are built with our pets as we welcome them into our lives as members of our families.
Grieving for your animal will be a unique experience, no two people grieve in the same way. Often people will go through stages of grief, they may experience feelings of denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance and resolution. Others may find that their grief is more cyclical, it may come in waves, or they may experience it as a series of highs and lows. It is important that you do not ignore your grief, talk about your animal, share stories, have a ceremony, plant a tree, let yourself cry and let yourself laugh at the memories, acknowledge whatever comes up for you without judgement.
Some people find it helps to bring a new animal into the house, some people need to grieve entirely before getting a new animal. Whatever you decide, it is the right decision for you. Their is no right or wrong way to go through grieving process.
Losing a pet is a painful experience. I believe that the pain we feel is the price we pay for loving so deeply and for me, I wouldn’t change a thing… I may only have had 18 months with my beautiful pup but what a wonderful 18 months it was.