Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Loss Of A Loving Pet

I felt I needed to follow up my last posting, where I wrote about a loss of a very good friend's loving dog, Sheffield.

Sheffield's death and the grief that followed in my friend and myself made me take a look at what people go through when they lose a pet they love and care for.

The grief and the pain that follows is completely normal. Don't ever let anyone tell you how you should feel after a death of a pet.

Some people don't understand. They may never had the experience of the love, companionship and joy a pet could bring. In some ways, that fact is kind of sad to me.

I have so many terrific memories of pets I've own and been in the company of throughout my years.
I've done some research online about losing a pet and how to cope with it. I came across some terrific advice from Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.
  • Many people go through guilt and the "if only I had been more careful" syndrome. It's pointless to dwell upon the guilt of an accident or illness that claimed your pet's life, and only makes it more difficult to resolve your grief.
  • The most important step you can take is to be honest about your feelings. Don't deny your pain. Only by examining and coming to terms with your feelings can you begin to work through them. You have the right to feel pain and grief. Someone you loved has died, and you may feel alone and bereaved
  • Locking away grief doesn't make it go away. Express it. Cry, scream, pound the floor, talk it out. Don't try to avoid grief by not thinking about your pet; instead, reminisce about the good times. This will help you and others understand what your pet's loss actually means to you.
  • Some find it helpful to express their feelings and memories in poems, stories and even letters to their pet. Others rearrange their schedule to fill in the times they would have spent with their pet. Some also put together a memorial such as photo collages and talking with others about the loss.
  • Sometimes to the surprise of people who have multiple pets and lose one, they find the surviving pets may go through a grieving process. This is normal and yes, they do grieve. Pets often form a strong bond to one another. The surviving pet may need a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this period. Giving this extra love is not only good for the surviving pet but it's also wonderfully healing of your own grief.
As I look back at the pets I've lost and my friend's dog, Sheffield, who I loved as though he was my own, I think to myself that even though the pain of losing them is almost unbearable, the love and happiness they gave when they were with us by far makes up for it.

The post below I dedicate to Sheffield, one of the most loving dogs I ever had the pleasure of meeting. I'm so thankful for the time I had you in my life.

For more information about coping with the loss of a pet, please go to :


Rae said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post on Earth Day. I took your suggestion to read your posts about your friend's yellow lab. He reminds me so much of my dog. Of course I had to cry, I was so moved by your tribute. I really like your blog page and writings.

gjjjsnead said...

Talking of pet loss makes me think of some our dogs that have passed in our pet therapy group. We have to remember that the owner is not the only one with the loss. So, ae the people that we visited with that animal. It is very hard for them also. Please visit our blog.