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How to Cope with the Loss of a Pet

Is your pet a member of your family, or one of your best friends?

You’re not alone. Many pet parents feel the same way, and are left to grieve—and grieve deeply—when a beloved family friend is gone.

Is hurting like this normal?

When taking care of a pet for years, they become a part of our everyday life. Intense grief of loss of a dear beloved pet is normal for a person to experience. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are crazy, silly and overly sentimental to grieve for a pet you learned to love and care for. Pets give us joy, companionship, and unconditional love. People who have never taken care of a pet at all may never understand.

How can you manage your emotions?

Acknowledge your feelings. Allow yourself to go through them. Eventually, you will be able to accept things as they are.
Know that you have the right to grieve. You’ve just lost someone you love dearly, someone who has been a part of your life for years. Don’t try to lock the grief inside of yourself—that won’t help. Find ways to express your grief. Cry, scream, shout, or write about it in your journal. Do whatever it takes to help yourself recover.

Talk to friends and family members.

Just make sure you reach out to friends and family members who are pet parents like you. Someone who has gone through what you are going through will be in a better position to feel empathy about your situation.
However, don’t focus exclusively on the loss of your pet. Go on a walk. Take a bubble bath. Read a book. Do things that make you happy, and try not to feel guilty over it. Remember, your pet would not want you to be sad forever.

When is it time to get a new pet?

Only you can make that decision. Some pet parents ultimately decide that they don’t want to accept another pet into their life, and that’s okay. Others ultimately will want to adopt a new pet.

Just make sure that you really think it through. Go through the same steps that you’d go through if you’d never had a pet before. Evaluate your physical and financial fitness, and whether or not you are up to providing a second forever home. If you do decide to adopt again then you can take some pleasure in knowing that you’ll be providing a new pet with a great deal of joy.

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