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Oct 19, 2018

When Your Pet Dies; Understanding Your Feelings Of Loss. (source: American Veterinary Medical Association)

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The Stages Of Grief:

There are many stages of grief, but not everyone experiences them all or in the same order. The stages include DENIAL, ANGER, GUILT, DEPRESSION, ACCEPTANCE, and RESOLUTION. The grief can seem to come in waves, may be brought on more intensely by a sight or sound that sparks your memory, and may seem overwhelming at times.


Your first reaction may be DENIAL - an unwillingness to accept the fact that your pet has died or that death is unavoidable. Denial may begin when you first learn the seriousness of your pet's illness or injuries. Often, the more sudden the death, the more difficult the loss is to accept and the stronger the denial.


ANGER and GUILT often follow denial. Your anger may be directed towards the people you normally love and respect, including your family, friends, or your veterinarian. People coping with death will often say things that they do not really mean, unintentionally hurting those whom they do not mean to hurt. You may feel guilty or blame others for not recognizing the illness earlier, for not doing something sooner, for not being able to afford other types of further treatment, or for being careless and allowing your pet to be injured.


DEPRESSION is a common experience after the death of your special pet. The tears flow, there are knots in your stomach, and you feel drained of all your energy. Day-to-day tasks can seem impossible to perform and you may feel isolated and alone. Many depressed people will avoid the company of friends and family. It might be hard to get out of bed in the morning, especially if your morning routine involved caring for your pet's needs. Sometimes you may even wonder if you can go on without your pet. The answer is YES, but there are times when special assistance may be helpful in dealing with your loss. If you are suffering from profound depression, seek professional assistance.


Eventually, you will come to terms with your feelings. You can begin ACCEPTANCE of your pet's death. RESOLUTION has occurred when you can remember your pet and your time with them without feeling the intense grief and emotional pain you previously felt. ACCEPTANCE and RESOLUTION do not mean that you no longer feel a sense of loss, just that you have come to terms with the fact that your pet has passed away.


Even when you have reached resolution and acceptance, feelings of anger, denial, guilt, and depression may reappear. If this does happen, these feelings will usually be less intense, and will with time be replaced with fond memories.


Although everyone experiences the stages of grief, grieving is always a very personal process. Some people take longer than others to come to terms with DENIAL, ANGER, Guilt, and Depression, and each loss is different. If you understand that these are normal reactions, you will be better prepared to cope with your feelings and to help others face theirs. Family and friends should be reassured that sorrow and grief are normal and natural responses to the death of your pet.



The period from birth toold age is so much shorter for most domestic pets than for people, and death is a normal part of this lifecycle. It cannot be avoided, but understanding and compassion can help you, your family, and your friends manage the grief associated with it.


For some people, a memorial service or ritual (such as releasing balloons, burial, or spreading cremated remains) can be therapeutic. You can choose to keep and display reminders of your beloved pet, such as photos or mementos or anything that helps you recall and treasure the good times you spent with your beloved pet. You may also wish to make a memorial contribution to a charity, shelter, or rescue in honor of your pet and the deep bond you shared. Just as the grieving process varies from person to person, so does the method of remembering the beloved pet that shared your life and furever home.



The bond that we form with animals can be very deep and fulfilling, and the loss of a beloved pet can have an impact on us that is as great, or even greater, than the loss of a family member or friend. The bond is what makes our interactions with animals rich and rewarding, but also what makes the grief process so complicated. The greater the love you feel for a person or animal, the deeper the sense of loss when they are gone.


After your pet has died or been lost, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow. the amount of time a person grieves for the loss of their pet may be very different for different people. Although grief is an internal and private response, there are certain stages of grief that most people experience. By understanding the process, you can be better prepared to accept and handle your grief and to help other family and friends who share your sense of loss. It's hard to think of it this way because the process can seem so painful, but mourning is actually an act of love.

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