They say that a dog is man s best friend, but in reality any pet becomes a part of the family with which it lives. To lose a pet can be a blow to everyone involved but there are ways to work through the grief that will accompany this loss. Acknowledging the death, honouring the pet and celebrating his or her life are just a few of the ways that families can help cope with the loss of a pet.
Acknowledging the Death
Acknowledging the death of a pet can be difficult. When young children are involved some parents prefer to pretend that the pet has run away or otherwise escaped to another place rather than discuss death and all of its implications with the child. However, covering up a death robs everyone of their chance to grieve for the beloved animal. Acknowledging a death may mean different things for different families. For very small pets some families may choose to host a funeral on their property. For larger animals the family may want to accompany the remains to a veterinarian or the final resting place. Putting aside some private time for the family to laugh and cry together about their pet may also help family members come together and remember the pet.
Honouring the Pet
For non pet owners it may seem a little over the top to honour a pet s life, but if someone has never experienced a life with a pet then they will not be able to understand the pain that accompanies the loss of a pet. Just as a family would honour the life of a relative who has passed away, so too can they honour the life of a deceased pet. Looking at pictures of the animal, telling favourite stories or private memories, writing a poem about the pet or even erecting small plaque or memorial in the pet s honour are all ways that the loss of a pet can be marked and respected.
Celebrating the Pet s Life
While grieving is inevitable following the loss of a beloved pet it should also be remembered that it is the perfect time to celebrate his or her life as well. Craft projects that help memorialise the pet, donations to pet-related charities and even organising a special meal or gathering to celebrate the pet s contributions to the family are all ways that a pet s life can be celebrated.
The loss of a pet can be a shocking blow to both human family members and other pets in the household as well. While it may be tempting to rush out and find a new pet to fill the hole left by the old one, it is generally recommended that families wait a little while to give themselves time to grieve. Rather than attempting to replace a deceased pet, a new pet should only be selected on his or her own merit and welcomed, accepted and loved for his or her own personality and characteristics. If and when a family is ready for a new pet, considering an animal rescued by an animal charity or hospital is one way to help ensure that all animals are afforded a warm, loving home.