Dealing with the death of a dog can be overwhelming and cause a variety of difficult emotions. Some people aren’t obsessed with dogs like we are, but don’t let them make you feel an ounce of guilt for grieving your dog. With the following suggestions you and your whole family can cope healthily, comfort each other, comfort yourselves, and then start the process of moving on:
- Be patient with your grieving process. Everyone starts to feel better at different times. There is no deadline for feeling better.
- No matter what feelings you have while grieving remember that you are not weak, don’t be ashamed of your feelings.
- Don’t hide your grief. If you are true with yourself and your whole family, you are likely to feel better sooner than if you try to ignore your feelings.
- Write about your feelings. Try to paint your feelings abstractly, and talk to people about how you are doing, especially if they are dog lovers too.
- If you don’t know anyone that has dealt with the death of a dog reach out to people online via message boards or call the ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline at (877) GRIEF-10
- Long-term, consistent grief that interferes with your ability to function should be discussed with your doctor or a mental health professional
- A funeral or memorial might be helpful if you appreciate rituals and structure
- Remember the love and joy you had with your dog by creating a photo album or scrapbook with the whole family
- Planting a tree or installing a symbolic object in your yard can also help remind everyone of the fun and love you shared
- Eat, sleep, and exercise are daily activities that have to be maintained in order for you to be healthy. They are especially important in times of grief.
- If you have other pets at home, play with them more than usual. By staying active with them, you all get a positive boost.
- Don’t rush out and get another dog until everyone in the family has fully grieved the loss. This is an especially important way for kids to learn that grief is healthy