The period of mourning can be defined as the process by which people adapt to a loss. Different beliefs, cultures, rituals are often followed during this period which may help to ease suffering you are experiencing. However, you may also find yourself surprised by the variety of emotions that keep changing rapidly, so much so, that you might feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster.
Perhaps the most vital step in coping with the emotions you will feel upon the loss of your pet is acknowledging them. Let yourself feel what you feel: write down your emotions, cry, be angry, or choose to call someone you trust whether it’s a close person in your life or trained counselor. It is imperative that you don’t try to repress or deny the changing emotions that you may encounter as many of us are often closer to our pets than the humans in our lives, so when that bond is broken, it can be devastating.
Since grief is a very individualized process, emotions vary from person to person so there is no wrong or right way to feel, or time frame in which to feel it. Some days will be good, some days will be bad, and you may even experience changing emotions hour to hour. These changing emotions can be powerful periods of anger, disbelief, sadness and guilt, especially if it was an untimely death. It may sometimes feel like you’re losing your mind, but grief by nature is an intrusive process that interferes with our physical and emotional well-beings. The key to healthy mourning is to recognize these feelings instead of searching for ways to “get over them”.
People who have lost a pet are often afraid to tell others because they are so upset or feel ashamed by the intensity of their feelings over the loss of a pet versus more socially accepted loss of a relative or close friend. We would like to keep reminding you that what you are experiencing is very real, and it should be honored. Some pet owners also feel that by choosing to euthanize an animal, they have contributed to or perhaps even caused the death of their animal – even if their pet was in great pain and euthanasia relieved that pain. If these feelings increase overtime, please consider seeking support whether it is through professional help or a trusted friend or family member.
Lastly, remember that it takes courage to reach out and that it is all right to be very upset over losing your pet. It takes time to heal, for some of us mourning takes longer and for others, mourning is shorter. For some mourning is a process that can be adapted to in our lives, and we learn to cherish the love we have for our pets in a whole different way. Take the time you need to mourn in your own way, honor the intense feelings you are experiencing, and seek help when you need it.
Sign up for SPCA International alerts to receive regular updates on animals in crisis and how you can help.