Losing a dog is one of life’s hardest moments. For many of us, our dog is our confidant, therapist, and pillow to cry on when things get rough. How do you say goodbye to your best friends whose life is never long enough?
Dr. Wendy J. James is a Psychologist and Owner of Life Consultant based in Dallas, Texas. She explains that since pets hold a special place in our hearts, we grief for them in the same way we would a person.
“The loss of a pet is still ‘grief and loss,’” Dr. James explains. “The grieving process comes in stages; loneliness, and depression such as ‘I miss my pet.’”
Going Through the Grieving Process of a Pet
While we do not all grieve in the same way, it’s important to know that however you do, it’s okay. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about your emotions toward you departed loved one. Distance yourself from those who put you down or make you feel worse during this time. You can reconnect when you are ready.
Dr. James’s Tips for Coping With The Loss of a Dog
- Crying is welcome – Don’t pent up any feelings of sadness inside. Let them out and cry as much as you need to. Crying is therapeutic and it processes emotion.
- Help out with a local pet shelter – Being around animals in need can not only temporarily help fill the void left by the loss of your pet but, you’ll efforts will make a difference in the lives of animals in great need.
- Temporarily take in a pet until a permanent home is found – If there is an abundance of love in your heart for animals, give one a home that’s better than a pet shelter.
- Start a new activity you have wanted to do after work – Keep your mind occupied as much as possible so time can slowly heal your heart.
- Get together for dinner with your friends – Be around as many positive people as possible as their company will raise your spirit.
- Work with the nursing homes, Hospice and Children’s hospitals that take a pet in to give them comfort.
In addition to the above tips, Dr. James has some advice on when you should allow another four-legged best friend into your life.
“When you get through the grieving process, remembering your experiences with the pet that passed and you find that having a pet brought joy to your life, then you are ready for another dog,” Dr. James advises.
However, while the void is great, she also cautions you to not rush into getting another dog.
“Understand you will have to tolerate the puppy phase one more time and the new pet will not be a clone of the pet you just loss, may have a different personality,” Dr. James explains. “One thing you may wish to consider if you don’t want to go through the puppy stage again is to welcoming a more mature dog into your life.
Related: Looking for pet memorial keepsakes? Try this unique store
Remember the good times with your beloved buddy and cherish the moments you shared. Tell yourself you gave him the best life a dog could have and be grateful for the time he gave you, however short. And don’t forget, he is over that rainbow bridge, chasing bunnies and digging up bones, waiting for you to join him.
About the Author
Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.