We were horrified. We had envisioned a lot of happy years with Patty. We had envisioned him meeting and loving our children in future and maybe him getting a little jealous that he had to share our attention. We had yearned to see how he would look at five years old, no longer a boy but a mature GSD male. We had planned to take good care of him in his old age. In short, we had never imagined that he would die at just one. Now we had to deal with his loss and I can tell you it was not easy.
Many people who have never lost a pet who is part of a family don’t understand how hard it can get. There is a misconception that since the pet is an animal, the grief should be less intense. So here’s what you can do to cope.
Don’t let anyone devalue your grief
Don’t let someone tell you how to feel. If you are very sad because your dog died, allow yourself to grief. Don’t let anyone tell you to move on when you are not ready to do so. I remember some people suggesting that I replace Patty with another dog. But did they really know how much I feared going through loss all over? I was not ready to move on. I was not ready to replace Patty. In fact, I never did. I got other dogs later on, but not to replace Patty.
Have a Ceremony
Having a ceremony gives you closure in a way. For us, we had a ceremony where a few people who had known and loved Patty attended. My husband later expanded his business to include a pet salon, which we called Patty Dog Grooming in honor of our first dog. The name says you know what Patty? You might be gone, but you are not forgotten.
Share your loss
Since so many people don’t understand how much it hurts to lose a favorite pet, it helps to seek the company of those who have lost their pets. It’s easier for them to understand what you are going through. When you share your pet’s best moments and how you are feeling, they are able to understand you and share their own stories. You start feeling that you are not alone in this and that everything will be alright in the end. Maybe not right away, but someday the sun will shine again.
Don’t ignore your pain
Don’t brush your pain aside. Grief for as long as necessary. Let those who understand know how you feel. If you hold it inside, the pain will eat at you and you will take longer to heal. Letting yourself feel the pain will help you heal faster.
If you have lost a favorite pet, my heart goes out to you. May you find comfort in the good memories you and your pet made. Also, it gets better with time. The pain never really leaves, but it loses its sting with time. All the best.