Whether your pet dies by accident or disease, or even old age, there is a process of grieving we endure.
And not just us…
Truly anyone who has met, petted, or loved your dog (or cat) will grieve right along with you. For they do not just touch our lives, but the lives of everyone they encounter.
But how do you get through it? How do you move past the loss?
Just as with any loss in our life, we have to get used to the idea that they are no longer here with us. Initially we have to get used to the loss of energy and vitality in our home and that touched out lives, for they take up a very large energetic place in it. Some people cannot handle the void they feel, so they decide to bring another animal into the home quickly, especially if they only had one pet.
Then again others need to grieve a whole lot longer.
They have to mentally allow themselves to work through the entire process of being at a loss. Not do the woe-is-me thing, because that is someone making the loss all about them and not about their pet. Instead someone might need to get comfortable coming home to an empty house. Get used to the loss of part of their routine in life, especially if they have already decided not to get another pet, or to get a different pet (species, breed, size, etc).
So how do you process it mentally? You remember your pet, you love your pet all over again, and then you let go of it so you can find peace. Holding on to old memories doesn’t bring peace, it brings cycles of grief and respite. We see it in humans all the time, unable to let go of the death of a loved one, and some grieve the same way about pets.
Then their are those who get another pet right away. Sometimes its a few days later, sometimes it’s a few weeks later. This doesn’t mean they are grieving any less. It means they opened their heart up to find peace so that love could find them again.
When my beloved Snoopy died in February of 2011 I told myself I would wait before getting another dog. I knew that I would, but I was moving to another state and decided that I would look for a pet once I got settled. However, the universe conspired for me to rescue a dog where I was and take him with me. Two days after Snoopy passed, I woke up with a hard and fast urge to get down to my county shelter (a kill shelter) to look at the dogs. I went with an open mind and open heart and when I saw Sammy I decided to rescue him, foster him, and find him a good home as he was a much larger dog than I was considering for myself. Luckily I followed that pulling of my heart and found a lifelong match that no one could have predicted.
So what about our pets? How do they get over the death of a pet friend?
Just as we grieve they grieve too. However other species see the world much differently than humans do. They are not constrained by the mind and society telling them how to think or feel, they just do. They also are innately connected to the other side of here, that place beyond the Rainbow Bridge. They are always connected, and can still see their friends, but that doesn’t mean they don’t miss them.
Whenever one of Sammy’s friends dies I know right away, long before anyone tells us.
He gets lethargic, doesn’t want to do anything, and is very sad. Recently his friend Monster died unexpectedly (12yoa yorkie/lasso mix). I knew something was up the day before as he kept wanting to go visit him, but we were never there when his Dad was home for a visit. Then I woke up to find a very sad puppy. I did say “who died” but he didn’t respond. I suspect because I had to process it too once I found out. Later that day we were told of Monster’s passing and I burst into tears….knowing the heartbreak his dad must be feeling. The rest of the day we spent just being quiet and hanging out so Sammy could decompress. The next day we got to see Monster’s dad and Sammy got to give him some hugs. I think they both felt a whole lot better.
So what can you do for your pet when they are grieving?
Let them grieve! Don’t overly hug them, don’t overly commiserate with them, just let them be…letting them know you are there for them for whatever they need. In a day or two they will be back to their old selves.
So whether you need to grieve for a while, or for a day or two, which ever you choose is the right answer for you. Had the universe let me sit on my laurels and feel sorry for myself, I may have never found the love of my life!