- Terri Hitt
5 Ways to Heal After Losing a Pet
Even though it was four months ago, my heart still squeezes with sadness when I think of our two furry family members who passed unexpectedly this year. Have you experienced the painful loss of a pet? Losing a pet can hurt as much as the loss of a beloved individual in our lives, because during their time with us, they become a beloved furry family member.
Grief can feel never-ending. Although we can experience joy again, our heart remains scarred, never to beat exactly the same. Just as when we lose a human companion, joy can abide despite the pain, or we may experience a depressing loneliness or sadness. Losing a pet means we lose a piece of our lifestyle. We lose someone we were responsible for, someone who depended on us, sought us out, made us feel special. Many areas of our life are affected when our furry companion is gone.
Pets are our daily companion, avid listeners, keeper of our secrets, & no matter what, our furry companion always accepts us as we are. We laugh daily at their playful or stubborn antics & sometimes they seem to laugh right back. I've seen my pets appear to look embarrassed, confused, & often excited. Most importantly, they seem to exude joy in my presence and made me feel like one of the most important people in the world, because to them, I was.
Our precious pets offer unconditional love, emotional support, & a physical presence that forces us to focus on someone else, enabling us to give and receive love in beautiful ways we may not have experienced without them. Once they are gone, our habits are changed, routines altered. Life is different.
Grieving takes time. No one can push it along or out of the way. Loving deeply means grieving intensely. Whether we lose a human or an animal, our heart was designed for love. When our guard is down, we know that loss will eventually arrive. Pain is the cost we pay for experiencing intense connection.
With the loss of my beloved pets still fresh, I'd like to share ways that have helped my family grieve and process the loss of our precious babies. Although everyone may experience loss in different ways and grieving is personal, perhaps some of these suggestions will help you when you experience deep loss of any kind.
Don't try to hide pain or feel badly for grieving, especially when it is a pet. Loving a living creature doesn't have to be explained. Love is a gift, whether for a person or a furry or feathered companion.
Maintain your living routine as much as possible, but take time to grieve. Don't expect life to be or feel normal for a while.
Talk about your pet and continue to say their name. Just as we do with humans we lose, I found it helps to speak the name of my pets aloud. Talking about memories with others, especially those who also knew or loved them is a special connection that seems to keep beautiful memories alive and fresh.
Place mementos of your loved one or pet around the house. We have special watercolor portraits of our furry family members hanging in our family room so we can easily view them in our private space.
We also had plaster paw prints made for the two of them and kept a tiny bit of their hair in separate miniature jars. Although it felt silly roaming the store aisles for small glass containers to place their fur in, it is a comfort to have a piece of them right beside their paw prints.
5. After several weeks of missing the joy of pets within our home, we needed to fill our lives with love for another puppy. Finding the perfect pet for our family was a welcome distraction from missing Max and Misty so much. We don't expect Beau to fill the great loss of Max & Misty, but it is such a joy to add him as a new member of our family.
Although we still miss our beloved Miniature Schnauzer and Golden Retriever very much, we enjoy our puppy and are building new memories, while cherishing old ones. Beau, the new cherished, furry companion hears stories of the siblings he didn't get to meet, & we are enjoying rembering them while focusing on discovering all the special qualities our new baby carries.
Now my heart seems to squeeze with joy when I see his face or think of him & the many ways he makes us smile each day.
Joy & peace can be found in the midst of loss, & that is one important lesson I have learned in life. Loss is a universal feeling everyone understands, but every story of loss is different, so it is important to take the steps you & your family need.
If you enjoy listening to podcast episodes, or you want to try them out, I would like to welcome you to my own channel, Live With Eternal Podcast. I touch on very personal issues such as loss on many of my episodes, but these are two that are specific to speaking on pet loss.