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Coping With the Death of a Pet

Jul 13, 2008
When most of us think about the death of a friend we think about someone that we worked with, that we went to school with, or became acquainted with in some way. In short, we think about our human friends who have passed on. Dealing with the death of the people you know and love is difficult, but so to is the loss of a pet. Many people don't realize that the loss of a pet can be as painful as the loss of a friend or family member. It sounds silly to those that do not have the love of that special dog, cat, bird, ferret, or another furry animal, but the love that you share with these animals is unlike the love that you will ever share with a human, making the loss of our animals difficult.

Don't Play Down Your Pain

If your pet has just passed away you'll be feeling immense grief, so don't play down your pain. A lot of people are hesitant to share with their friends and family members exactly how much they are hurting as their pet ages, gets sick, and dies. You need to express these feelings to those that share the love of your animal, or even those that are just good listeners. This is a difficult time, just like it would be if you had lost a person who was close to you.

Perhaps what makes dealing with the death of a furry friend more difficult is that our time with animals is relatively short. The average dog lives just 10 to 12 years, a mere acquaintance in a human life. Many have said that the reason that we live so long is because it takes us at least one lifetime to learn how to love unconditionally. Animals don't have to live that long because they are born knowing trust and love and are here to teach us.

If you have had to make the difficult choice to put your pet to sleep, this can create a whole new level of grief. Here is your best friend and they need your help and the only thing that you can do for them is make them comfortable while they pass on. This is difficult, but you should know as a pet owner you have made the selfless decision to put your pet out of their misery before it got really bad. Don't allow yourself to feel guilty for doing this, as it is often the best and only choice for a humane pet owner.

When dealing with the loss of an animal you will likely go through the same grief process as you do when you grieve for a human being. You may feel shocked, sadness, anger, and then slowly you'll come to accept it. Someday in the future when you have gotten over the worst of the pain you will consider getting a new pet. There is nothing like the love our animals give us, and for pet owners it is often the desire for that unconditional love which has them going back for more, even after losing one of their beloved furry friends.
About the Author
Mike Vines, in association with GriefManagement.org and GriefManagement.org Forums , seeks to provide a safe and congenial home to those suffering from grief, along with the hope and understanding from a community of concerned individuals willing to share their own experiences to help others through the difficulties of life.
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