While more cynical types may scoff at the notion, the loss of a pet can be a major emotional hardship for its owners. In many cases, a dog or cat has grown up alongside multiple children, becoming a close family member in its own right. With many pets living well past a decade, it can be a strange sensation to come home and not find your dog waiting by the front door as it had been for many years.
According to Oprah.com, “the relationship between humans and their pets is often described by psychologists as a simple one – free of the complications that people experience in dealing with each other and full of unconditional love. This can often make the grieving process more intense when a pet dies. A pet is a constant companion, and facing its loss can be devastating.”
In dealing with your grief, you may want to consider some memorial gifts to help commemorate your pet’s passing. Ceremonial practices and rituals can help you process and understand your feelings while saying goodbye – it’s for this reason that funerals contain so many different aspects. By recognizing that your pain is real – not something embarrassing or inappropriate that should be ignored – you can begin working through it.
MSNBC suggests that “sometimes it helps to create a special place in your home to which you can go when you want to remember your pet. Although remembering may be painful at first, eventually that pain will turn into sweet memories.”
You may want to organize a photo album of fond memories you shared with your dog or cat so you’ll have something permanent to hold onto. Pet memorial stones can also mark a plot of land in your yard that you can visit after your pet is gone.
A common problem that people face after the initial loss of a pet is deciding when it’s appropriate to find a new animal friend for the family. Your decision will be based largely on the relative mood and amount of grief that you, your partner and children are dealing with, but MSNBC recommends waiting at least a month. You shouldn’t feel guilty about bringing a new pet home either. There are many dogs and cats in shelters that are looking for a good home, and part of your effort to remember your lost friend can be spent providing a new animal with love and care.