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Coping With the Loss of a Pet

Anyone who has a pet can relate to the grief that comes with losing your pet. Whether you have spent a few years or many years with your beloved pet, intense grief is a normal, natural part of your loss. Here are some tips to help you cope with difficult decisions and grief after the death of your pet.

During the years you spend with your pet, you form a unique bond with a loving creature that is a significant part of your life. Pets provide comfort and companionship, happiness, and unconditional love and acceptance. When your pet dies, you feel like an important family member has died, and you feel alone. Coping with the death of a loved one always takes time, but the first step to getting past your grief is acceptance.

People handle grief in different ways, and depending on your situation, you may experience other emotions along with your sorrow:

Guilt – You may feel responsible for your pet’s death in some way. Thoughts that you should have given him better care or more attention may surface, but it’s pointless to blame yourself for your pet’s death.

Denial – You may find it difficult to accept that your pet is really gone. Denial is often a way of coping with grief, but it will keep you from moving forward. Some pet owners find it difficult to think about getting a new pet, even in time, for fear of feeling disloyal to the old one.

Anger – You may experience feelings of anger directed toward the circumstances that caused your pet’s death. This anger can be directed toward the veterinarian who failed to save your pet, a family member who left the gate open, or a motorist who injured your pet.

Depression – Depression is a natural emotion that accompanies grief, but it can rob you of your energy and motivation and leave you feeling powerless to cope with your loss. Remember, depression is a natural reaction to a devastating loss, and it takes time to get through it.

After your pet dies, you must decide what to do with the remains. Options include a home burial on your property, a pet cemetery or a pet cremation service. A home burial is free, but you’ll need sufficient land and clearance. A pet cemetery burial is usually costly, but cremation services allow an affordable option.

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