The loss of your companion animal can create an immeasurable void in your life and, understandably, in your heart. It may be difficult to imagine a time when you will not be filled with feelings of hurt and sadness. Whether you find yourself struggling with your feelings of grief, or you would simply like a compassionate, understanding person to talk to, please call us at the CARE Helpline. We can also provide you with specific information on grieving, euthanasia, children and pet loss, and meaningful ways to memorialize your beloved animal friend.
Pet Loss and Grief
The death of your companion animal may be one of the most significant losses of your life. With this profound loss comes grief and its associated emotional and physical manifestations: sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, helplessness, crying, fatigue, or changes in appetite and sleep patterns. It is important to know that these feelings are normal, and that grieving is a necessary part of the healing process.
Grieving is the natural way that your mind and body adjust to a loss and heal your emotional wounds. We strongly encourage you to allow yourself to grieve in a way that gives you the most comfort. Allowing yourself to feel the sadness, anger, anguish, and loss will aid the healing process. Conversely, repressing your feelings may actually prolong your sadness and the time for recovery. During this time you may need the emotional support of family, friends, your veterinarian, and perhaps a grief counselor.
The amount of time required to heal varies considerably, ranging from days to years. Although you may feel that you have finished grieving, feelings of sadness may re-emerge with a holiday, your pet’s birthday, or the anniversary of your pet’s death. For this reason, some experts suggest that you give yourself, at a minimum, one year to grieve.
This form of grief is experienced before the actual loss of your companion animal. Anticipatory grief is typically brought about by the diagnosis of a pet’s terminal illness and/or the decision to euthanize. The decision to euthanize your companion animal may be one of the most difficult to make. It involves ending the life of your beloved companion and changing the unique bond that you share with your animal. However, the decision to euthanize also involves a very gentle and caring way to end the life of your animal friend.