Dealing with grief
Your pet was more than “just a pet”; you may have considered your pet as a family member, a friend, a source of support, a confidante, and bearer of unconditional love. When you lose a pet, you will experience grief and even grieve the loss of your pet just as you would any other significant loss in your life. At this time it’s vital to be able to mourn. And through your mourning, find hope as you cope with your loss.
Grief is natural.
Grief is a natural process after a loss while you adjust to the changes in your life. Your role as a pet caregiver has come to an end, and now it is important for you to create new routines and patterns to your days. The grief journey can affect your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual life. One often asks the question, “Will I ever feel normal again?”
As you grieve the loss of your pet, you may go through a myriad of emotions. One moment you may cry then get angry. The next moment you may feel like you can’t do anything at all, or immerse yourself in an activity and shut yourself off from your feelings and people. You may feel like you’re going crazy! And this is a time when you may benefit most from seeking ongoing support through Day By Day and our services. It is important for you to express, mourn and acknowledge your feelings during this time because suppressing the emotions of grief can sometimes prolong the healing journey.
One never “gets over” grief, you only get through it. There is no such thing as “closure” in grief. We are truly forever changed by the losses we experience throughout our lives.
Understanding the grieving process
- Permission to grieve
It’s ok to grieve. Give yourself permission. You’ve come a long way as a pet caregiver, devoted much time and energy to your pet. Now you’ve experienced a tremendous loss. You deserve and need time to grieve.
- Seek ongoing support while you are grieving
Surround yourself with supportive people who understand what you are going through. Attend a Day By Day support circle where you can talk about your grief without fear of judgment. Or, call our hotline and speak to a Day By Day team member.
- Express your feelings of grief- MOURN
Acknowledging and expressing your emotions during this time can be cathartic. It can help release pent-up energy from within you and allow you to feel relieved, as well as gain perspective.
- Journal writing and crafts
In addition to attending a Day By Day support circle, consider writing your feelings in a journal, a poem or a letter. Or process your emotions through drawing or crafts. Engaging in these creative outlets can be therapeutic.
- Use your coping skills
Identify what has worked in the past for you when you had to go through difficult times. You have already developed coping skills that you’ve used throughout your life that can help you know.
- Prepare for strong emotions
Grief can take you over in waves of emotion. The first time you don’t wake up to your pet, the first birthday after a loss, the first anniversary of your pet’s death … these are just a few of the occasions that can stir up strong grief emotions. Be aware and prepare for these events so you can give yourself permission to grieve again. It can help to call and reach out to those who support you.
- Be patient
Grief takes time and is not a linear process. Give yourself time to grieve and authentically mourn.