Grieving the Loss of a Pet

Losing a pet can be just as traumatic as losing a family member. After all, our pets are members of our family. They are our constant companions and sources of unconditional love. Many people have a very strong bond with their animal, and when their pet passes away people often go through the same stages of grief as when a beloved friend or family member dies.

The most important thing to remember is to allow yourself time to grieve. Other people may not understand the depth of your feelings for your pet, but that doesn’t make them any less valid. You may have spent 10-15 years with your pet and you will feel a deep void when he or she is gone.

There are several stages of grief, including denial, guilt, anger, depression and acceptance. You will likely experience some, if not all of these emotions. If you had to make the difficult choice to euthanize your pet, you are likely to experience significant feelings of guilt at some point. This is completely normal. You should acknowledge those feelings, but also ask yourself if it is logical to feel guilt about something done out of compassion, and beyond your control. Blaming yourself for an illness or accident that took your pet’s life is not fair to you and will only bring greater pain.

There are many ways to cope with the grieving process. You can find an online pet loss support group, or you may wish to honor your pet’s memory with a photo collage or a piece of memorial jewelry. You can find items like this at http://www.thecomfortcompany.net/Pet-Loss-Sympathy-and-Memorial-Gifts-for-Pets.aspx

Please give yourself adequate time to grieve before adopting or purchasing a new pet. A new addition to your family deserves to be welcomed and loved for its own unique qualities, and not as a replacement pet.

Finally, the “Rainbow Bridge” by an anonymous author is a poem that brings comfort to those suffering the loss of a pet. If you are grieving, we hope it brings you comfort.

“There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals that have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.”

At Martin Downs Animal Hospital, we can help you through this difficult time by providing information and resources regarding burial and emotional support. We truly care about you and your pets and we’re here to help.

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