Everyone who has animals knows at some point that they will have to face their death. Whether the death was gradual at the end of a full life or a youngster meeting an untimely death, or a sudden illness or injury prompting their passing, most of our animal's life spans are shorter than ours.
Losing a pet can be just as difficult, traumatic and heartbreaking as losing a family member, because they ARE family! This can be a delicate, tender, emotional and deeply personal time.
Everyone deals with loss in many varied ways. Whether the beloved who died was an animal or a person loss is still a loss. The fabric of daily life definitely changes with the loss of your companion and good friend. Animals bring so much comfort, security, loyalty and love. Animals have a way of reaching into our hearts so incredibly deeply.
I have had the honor of living with many animals over the years, and had to face many deaths. From cats wondering off, accidents, illnesses, and long and sweet endings, I have gotten quite a bit of 'practice' with this challenging transition.
While I don't think there is a formula for getting through loss, I have found some common things that have been helpful to soothe my heart and have helped me find my way through death and loss. For some, talking about their loss can be rather difficult and intense. I hope that these tips are helpful and inspiring.
Tips for Grieving the loss of a beloved animal;
1) Be honest about your feelings and thoughts. Know that you have the right to feel deep loss, heartache, guilt, depression, lack of emotion, denial and even anger.
2) Follow your instincts- to take time to know what you need, and to tend to your heart
3) Send prayers- for yourself, and for your animal who has passed
4) Plant a tree, flowers or a garden in memory of your beloved
5) Create a memory board and/or picture slide show or tribute video
6) Display pics around the house or create a special place to honor your loved one
7) Journal, write or draw your feelings using different colors for expressing feelings
8) Cry...giving yourself permission to cry
9) Talk with a trusted friend who can really listen. Talk some more!
10) Know that the connections in your heart that you have had with your animal will always remain.
You will always be linked even though they are no longer in their physical body.
Grief has its own rhythms and goes up, down and all around. Grief does not have a neat time schedule and it rears up sometimes when you least expect it. Sometimes it shows up months or even years later. Taking time to veg out, cry, write, talk... whatever you need do to help your heart and to honor the memory of your animal is all important. Take the time you need. Trust your instincts.
Feelings of grief often do not fit into a neat package....and heartache takes time to mend.
Find ways to express what you loved and appreciated and what you learned with your animal friend. Express your favorite memories. These are all your prayers.
What have you found to honor your heart and your furry, winged or scaled friend who has been part of your family and is one of your beloved?
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For more information, you might enjoy reading my book, More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife. Purchase paperback on Amazon.com. It's also on Amazon as an e-book for those who have Kindle or Sony Readers. The audio book is now available!