Pets are family. Whether it’s the dog you have had since childhood or the goldfish that your child won at the carnival four years ago, the little creatures work their way into our hearts. They become part of our daily routine. We often become dependent on them – knowing they will be there when we need them. So when a pet passes on, it is an emotional time. Here are some tips to help in coping with the loss of a pet. These can be especially important if you have children.
Hold a service for them. You do not have to have a typical service, but it can be helpful to gather as a family and say a few words for your pet. Talk about your favorite stories and laugh about their endearing habits.
Memorialize them. Plant a tree or bush in their honor. Visit your local shelter; give the gift of playing with the dogs and cats there. Donate money in their name to a rescue organization or vet’s office to cover the bill of another pet in need. No act is too big or small!
Don’t forget them! Just because they are gone, it doesn’t mean they are forgotten. Leave their pictures up (or add new ones!). If it helps you to deal with it, leave their bedding where it was or the squeaky toy under the couch until you are ready to move them. Make a shadow box with their favorite toy and collar.
Find comfort with another. Sometimes adopting a new pet is the answer, but that is not always the case. If you are not emotionally ready for another pet but need some animal love in your life, volunteer at the shelter and love on as many homeless animals as you want! Pet-sit for a friend who is out of town. Go to a dog park and watch them frolic about.
Losing a pet is never easy, nor is there a quick fix for getting over the loss. However, you can turn an otherwise sad time into a happy one by reflecting on all of the great times that you shared with your animal companion!