Coping with the Death of a Pet
Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you’ve already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss: knowing that it is okay to grieve when a pet dies.
People love their pets and consider them members of their family. You may have celebrated your pets’ birthdays, or carried pictures of them in your wallet. So when your beloved pet dies, it’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your sorrow. Understanding how you grieve and finding ways to cope with your loss can bring you closer to the day when memories bring smiles, instead of tears.
What can I do to work through my grief?
Take care of yourself by making sure you get the rest and nutrition you need, even when you feel distracted. Your concentration may be impaired, so take extra caution when driving, or crossing the street.
- Recognize and accept that though the bond between you and your pet is as valuable as any of your human relationships, your loss may not be recognized or appreciated by other people.
- Find a support group by speaking with your veterinary professionals, groomer or other pet owners. Ask Maui Humane Society for referrals to pet grief support groups or veterinary bereavement counselors in the area.
- Create a special place in your home to which you can go when you want to remember your pet. Although remembering may be painful at first, eventually that pain will turn into sweet memories.
Pet Loss and Children
The loss of a pet may be a child’s first experience with death. The child may blame himself, his parents, or the veterinarian for not saving the pet. And he may feel guilty, depressed, and frightened that others he loves may be taken from him. Trying to protect your child by saying the pet ran away could cause your child to expect the pet’s return and feel betrayed after discovering the truth. Discuss the death of your pet openly and honestly with your children. Expressing your own grief may reassure your child that sadness is okay and help her work through her feelings.
Pet Loss and Seniors
Coping with the loss of a pet can be particularly hard for seniors. Those who live alone may feel a loss of purpose and an immense emptiness. A pet’s death may also trigger painful memories of other losses and remind caregivers of their own mortality. What’s more, the decision to get another pet is complicated by the possibility that the pet may outlive the caregiver and that the decision to get another pet hinges on the person’s physical and financial ability to care for a new pet.
For all these reasons, it’s critical that senior pet owners take immediate steps to cope with their loss and regain a sense of purpose. If you are a senior, try interacting with friends and family, calling a pet-loss support hotline, even volunteering at Maui Humane Society. If you know seniors in this situation, share what you know to help guide them through the difficult grieving process.
Caring for Other Pets
Surviving pets may whimper, refuse to eat or drink, and suffer lethargy, especially if they had a close bond with the deceased pet. Even if they were not the best of friends, the changing circumstances and your emotional state may distress them. However, if your remaining pets continue to act out of sorts, there could actually be a medical problem that requires your veterinarian’s attention. Give surviving pets lots of TLC and try to maintain a normal routine. It’s good for them and for you.
Getting Another Pet
Rushing into this decision isn’t fair to you or your new pet. Each animal has her own unique personality and a new animal cannot replace the one you lost. You’ll know when the time is right to adopt a new pet after giving yourself time to grieve, carefully considering the responsibilities of pet ownership, and paying close attention to your feelings.When you’re ready, remember that Maui Humane Society is the perfect place to find your next special friend.
Maui Humane Society provides caring and ethical pet cremation service to all veterinary clinics and pet owners on the island of Maui. Our compassionate staff strives to give your pet’s remains the same dignified and respectful aftercare that we would want for our own pets. Currently, we are the only facility permitted to provide this service to our community.
Honor Your Pet
A memorial gift to the Maui Humane Society is a personal remembrance that honors the life of a pet that has passed. You can choose to donate any amount in the memory of your pet who has passed, and we will honor you both in a special section of our website. You can also choose to memorialize your pet by sponsoring an area of the shelter in their honor.