Tips for Handling Pet Loss

One of my cats died not too long ago and since then, my other cat howls more, looks for affection, and sometimes looks for his sister. As for me, I was upset and sad for a while and missed my cat a lot. She had habits that I got used to over the 16 years I had her such as sleeping under the covers with me, standing on my shoulders, and putting her toys in my shoes or bed as “gifts.”

Sorrow and grief are normal and natural when losing a pet.

Here are some suggestions to help with the loss

  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own. Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment.
  • If you feel like it, reach out to others who have lost pets. If your own friends, family members, therapist do not work well with the grief of pet loss, find someone who does or a support group.
  • Rituals can help healing. If you want to have a funeral or some sort of ceremonial goodbye for your pet, do it.
  • Create a memorial. Preparing a memorial, planting a tree in memory of your pet, compiling a photo album or scrapbook, or otherwise sharing the memories you enjoyed with your pet, can create a legacy to celebrate the life of your animal companion.
  • Look after yourself. The stress of losing a pet can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.
  • If you have other pets, try to maintain your normal routine. Maintaining their daily routines, or even increasing exercise and play times, will not only benefit the surviving pets but may also help to elevate your outlook too.
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