5 Tips on How to Cope with a Pet Death

Coping with a pet’s death can be difficult and heartbreaking. Losing a furry family member that has provided companionship, support and love is devasting and world-changing, but it is completely normal to mourn your pet. Though you can never be fully prepared for a pet’s death, here are five tips on how to cope with a pet death.

How to Cope with a Pet Death

Before we discuss the five tips, remember to take your time and deal with your grief at your own pace. Grief affects everyone differently, and the process takes time. For some, it’s a few weeks or months; for others, it can be a few years.

Don’t feel rushed to “get over” your pet, and never try to ignore your feelings. Ignoring or rushing grief can make it worse and take longer to heal. The goal is to get to a place where you feel some acceptance over your pet’s death and perhaps a desire to get a new pet.

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1. Express Your Feelings

Whether it is sorrow, anger, depression, loneliness or shock, you need to express yourself. Holding anything in can hurt more than it can help.

If you euthanized your pet and feel guilt over it, try to understand that you were saving your pet from further pain and suffering. It is tough, but it is important to acknowledge this.

2. Talk

Find people that you can talk to about your pet. Whether it is friends, family, a support group, a hotline or a professional, talk about your pet and your feelings. It is important to recall the good, happy memories and not only the sad ones. You can also read books or watch movies on how to cope with a pet death. If talking is too difficult, try writing instead.

One thing you should keep in mind: avoid people that tell you to “get over it” or move on because it was “just a pet.” Your feelings are real and authentic, so talk with people that understand and respect your grief.

3. Honor Your Pet

After your pet passes, you might want to honor your pet’s memory. There are so many possibilities: hosting a ceremony or funeral, making a clay pawprint, planting a tree, buying a nice urn, creating a scrapbook, donating to an animal-related cause and more.

By honoring your pet, you are taking a moment to formally say goodbye. There might be a lot of pain and crying, but it will definitely be cathartic and help you with your grief.

4. Take Care of Yourself

To cope with a pet death, you have to take care of yourself emotionally, physically and mentally. Trying to go about your daily routine might feel like a betrayal that you are moving on, but you need stability in your life, especially if you have other pets or small children.

Don’t forget to eat meals, sleep several hours a night or exercise a bit. On that same note, it is important to stay occupied; don’t stay at home all day alone. Volunteer, do hobbies, hang out with friends, learn something new. It will definitely be hard at first, but maintaining these habits can help.

5. Get a New Pet

This step is definitely not for everyone, but it can help. After losing a pet, it may feel natural to want a new one. However, don’t rush into it. If your only goal for getting a new pet is to fill the void from your old pet, it’s probably a bad idea.

Take your time to fully grieve and respect your first pet before getting another one. If anything, this will let you know when you are ready and when the time is right for a new companion.