One important aspect that we encourage is to TALK. This is the most helpful way to begin the healing process. Keeping your feelings bottled up can only make your pain last longer. By offering phone support, as well as our monthly meetings, people are able to openly express their feelings with those who are compassionate and understand. This enables them to accept the loss and be on the road to a “normal” life quicker.
To recognize that you were very close to your pet and to give yourself permission to grieve. Some feel comfortable in placing a memorial plaque, planting a tree, or creating a memorial keepsake. This allows the person to pay tribute to the pet that has meant so much. It is also a way of honoring their pet’s life and helps them to adjust to life without them. The activity can help to fill the emptiness and it allows the opportunity to express their deep feelings of affection and sadness of their loss. Some find solitude in writing a poem or creating a picture book. We encourage each one to do what feels most comfortable to them.
Getting the proper rest, eating well and continuing daily exercise – to not break the usual routine within the household. Especially to those who still have other pets at home. This for most can be challenging, since suddenly the realization that you are only walking one dog opposed to two, or your cat suddenly acts differently because their buddy isn’t there. This is time that is also important to help your living pets adjust to a new routine without their siblings. The surviving pets are confused and will also feel the loss of their companions. In trying not to break the “regular” routine, will also help in getting your surviving pet to adjust. Take the grieving dog on more outings. Outings will deepen the dogs bond to you and make the dog’s life more interesting. Creating rituals that the dog can look forward to daily ie: ball catching, rubdown/brushing, etc.
Helping your dog adjust to this loss will help you at the same time. Realize that without the other canine pack member, your dog's position in life has now changed. You may now have a former leader dog without a follower. Or you may have a former follower dog without a canine leader. You will need to help your dog find the way to a healthy new position in the social order.
Cats sense when there has been a loss. A household with multiple cats, even if the cats were not best of friends, suddenly feel the change in hierarchy. Cats seem to be very much in tune with human emotions. Cats can go through a personality change when a loss is felt. They try to divert the human’s attention as a way to “take the pain away.”
To surround yourself with positive friends who understand your loss and to seek out support groups.
To be patient, and try to do pleasurable activities.
At times you may have relapse of sadness and grief, and to understand that it is okay.
We tell our members that grief is different to everyone. That the duration and intensity of your grief will be unique to you.
We provide genuine compassion, since we are all pet lovers and have shared the same experiences.
Non-pet owners, who haven't experienced the love and the connection of a human-animal bond, do not understand and can not appreciate the feelings that arise from the loss of a pet. They are unable to share the same emotions or have difficulty in understanding why we are unable to “get over” our loss, as one would with a human loss.
By participating, it demonstrates a valuable experience, a gift to help others and the knowing that we are all human and share the same compassion for our pets.
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