Losing a pet is a subject that most pet owners would rather not think about, but unfortunately, it's something that many must deal with at one time or another. When you lose someone you love, pet or human, the grief associated can be very intense and painful at times. It's important to remember that everyone deals with grief differently and allow yourself the time and space needed to grieve the loss of your beloved pet.
When a pet passes away, pet owners are often left unsure of how to cope or what they should do next. Though there is no set playbook for dealing with pet loss, below are some suggestions that may assist during this time.
Just as with a loss of a human, it's important to allow yourself the time to go through the various stages of grief. Although life does not completely stop when there is a death, it also doesn't just go on business as usual. Allow yourself some time, the amount varies person to person, to grieve the loss of this important part of your life. This may involve taking a day off from work or school, spending some quiet time alone or surrounding yourself with family and friends. There is no secret formula to dealing with grief and that is why it's so important to allow your individual coping mechanisms to guide you.
Some people are just not "pet people" and they may have a hard time understanding why you're so upset when this loss was "just a pet". These people may have a hard time being supportive and may not change their stance.
However, now is not the time to worry. Now is the time to turn to those who share your love for animals and understand the strong connection you can form with them.
Finding a way to remember your pet is often a helpful way to begin healing. This does not have to be a grandiose display if you don't want it to be, but just a simple reminder of a special part of your life.
Some people choose to bury pets and place a small marker or sign, others choose cremation and select a special box or urn to keep the ashes, while others may choose to spread the ashes in a location you and your pet enjoyed - a park, trail, etc. This is another personal choice that you should make based on your specific situation. Some pet owners may even choose to hold a ceremony after being left no choice but to euthanize their pet. There is not a right or wrong way to remember your furry friend.
Though there is some scientific debate on whether pets can perceive emotions, such as grief, there are well documented facts that support that changes in an animal’s routine or surroundings can be difficult for them. When the change comes in the form of losing a pet in a multi-pet home, it is important to keep a close eye on the remaining pets.
Pets that are struggling to adapt to the new normal may become less active or hide, be less interested in interacting with humans or other pets, have a decrease in appetite and even have sudden behavioral changes. If this behavior lasts beyond a week, it may be beneficial to contact your veterinarian for advice. Often times, pets may just need some time to adjust, however others may need some assistance.
In addition to the tips above, here are some additional resources that may be helpful as you go through this difficult time:
- The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
- Center for Pet Loss Grief
- Pet MD: Pet Loss Guide
- Pet Loss Grief Support Center
- Coping with Pet Loss: The Humane Society of the United States
- Chance's Spot: Pet Loss and Grief Support
- Pet Memorials
- Pet Loss Counselors
- Pet Loss Books
If you are experiencing the loss of a pet, we want to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences on behalf of the entire MetLife1 team. We know how special pets are, how much they mean to you and your family and we know this time is difficult.