Stages Of Grief When Losing A Pet

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Stages of grief when losing a pet

Stages Of Grief When Losing A Pet

Losing a pet can be one of the hardest things in life.  Grieving is necessary in order to move on, but it is painful.  Your pet may have been part of your  daily routine.  At first, you may start to do things at certain times because you had done that activity for your dog or cat every day at those certain times.  It may hit you over and over that your friend is gone.  It can be nearly unbearable at times as you adjust to your daily routines without your dear friend.

I found that even some of those little behaviors that were sometimes a little annoying, I missed.  The emptiness can cause so much heaviness to your spirit.  This is all normal when we grieve.  We must remind ourselves that these overwhelming feelings of sadness will lighten.  That is sometimes hard to do when in the initial mourning stage.  You may need to consciously remind yourself several times a day that time will help you deal with these powerful emotions of losing that someone you love.

As you are working through your grief, It is important not to make any major decisions, if possible, at least while in this initial grief period.  You may want to look at their toys, a special bed, blanket or collar.  It could be that you may not want to look at anything that reminds you of your friend.  If so, just put those things away out of sight.  You can decide later if you want to get rid of those items.  Allow yourself the time you need to grieve.  As time goes by, you will be able to think of your friend without crying.

We face many losses in the course of our lives and grieving is a natural emotion we must go through.  People do this in different ways.  And the way we grieve can depend on variable circumstances.  It may depend on our stage in life, our relationship, how much our friend was involved in our daily routine and various other possibilities.  Either way, grieving takes time.  Some may need extra support during this process and this is okay.

It has been several months now since my little toy Australian shepherd died, but I still miss him something awful.  I still tear up when thinking of him.  It wasn’t until just recently, that I could even look at a picture of him.  I know now, for me, it is time to truly celebrate his life.  That’s what inspired me to write about some ideas on how we can do this.  I think that ideally, these things should be done while your pet is still with you, but a necessity either way.  Having some things put together truly helps you smile at the sweet memories of your friend.  It keeps this bond fresh while you wait to join him or her in heaven.

Stages Of Grief Apply When Losing A Pet Or Any Other Loss In Life

Typically, the standard grief framework that has been sited has been frome the book, On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, MD.  She lists 5 stages of grief that we often go through.  These stages are only a typical guideline.  With some people, they might jump around through these stages while others may not have all these stages at all.  Here are the stages.

  • Denial: The initial shock of loss leads to disbelief. Our self-preservation instincts are high.  This is our way of shielding ourselves from taking on this calamity all at once.  It generally happens subconsciously.
  • Anger: As the reality sets in, some people may be surprised at the anger they feel.  They might be angry at themselves, the doctor or maybe even God.  It is a way of venting the pain and hurt they feel inside.
  • Bargaining and/or guilt: We might think about all the different scenarios that could have prevented the death.  If this had happened or if that had happened.  If we had done this or not done that.  It can trigger more anger or even forms of denial again.
  • Depression: This stage is generally present to some degree through the whole process, but It is usually after we have worked through the above stages that it fully takes hold.  We come to fully realize that our friend is really gone and there is nothing we can do to bring them back.  This stage is also generally the one that lasts the longest.  Reminding yourself that it too is part of the healing process and that you will come through it can help you endure.  If you feel it is lasting too long or you are having feelings of utter despair that you don’t think you can get through, call a professional immediately.  At any point during your depression that you have thoughts of ending it all or just can’t bear it any longer, call your doctor immediately.   Many people do need help to get over the worst part of their grief.  Acceptance can come.
  • Acceptance: At some point in this grieving process, you accept the loss and understand that you can move on with your life.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to miss your beloved pet or have moments of sadness.  In fact, you will likely think of them often.  That’s okay.

Stages Of Grief When Losing A Pet Ends With Acceptance, But They Will Always Be Remembered

stages of grief turned into sweet memories

I can imagine the fly roaring in laughter as he teased little Angus.

Instead of crying when you think of them, you might even smile.  Having a little sweet memory journal has really helped me with this.  You may even add things as you move on in life.  Things that you may have forgot about.  Today, when I was resting, a fly started buzzing about.  My dog’s eyes started darting about watching the fly go back and forth.  It reminded me of my little Angus.  He used to be very wary of flies.  When they would fly near his back end, he would quickly turn his head around to look at them suspiciously, then he would go hide somewhere to get away from them.  It was kind of funny.  I had forgotten that he did this, so added something about it in my journal.  It is a way to exchange sadness with sweet memories as I wait to join him in heaven.

 


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