While each person grieves in their own way, many people experience common stages of grief when they lose a loved one. natural parts of the grieving process include:
Accepting the death of a friend is one of the most difficult things a person must do. That's why we may deny the death at first, and tell ourselves that it can't be true.
As the reality of death settles in, anger often comes next. Before accepting our loss, we may direct our anger at those around us - friends, family members, caregivers and others. It's not uncommon for people dealing with such feelings to say or do things they don't mean.
Others may experience anger by turning inward. We may feel that there was more we could have done to help our loved one, and become overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. This is most often untrue, and in the end serves only to make it more difficult for us to cope with our loss.
Sadness is frequently the longest part of the grieving process - the stage in which we feel emptiness in the face of life without our friend. For some, the mourning that accompanies this stage can become depression that affects all aspects of life.
Sadness is often address best through the love an support of those around us, and by working through our grief rather than locking it away. Counseling can also aid in moving from dwelling on our sorrow to resolving it.
The final stage of grieving allows us to continue on with our lives. While we wish our loved one was still with us, we accept their death. At the same time, we can now look back fondly on our experiences with our friend, remembering the good times and the pleasure of our pet's company.
Support and Perspective
Whenever we have experienced a loss, the support and sympathy of those around us helps us cope. Family members, friends, the veterinary team, even other pets - they can all play a role in helping us work through our sorrow. Memorialization is one way to help the grieving process. Consider carrying a photo of your pet or making a scrapbook to honor them. Just knowing that you can still hold a piece of them in your heart can be comforting to those going through this rough time.
For those who have lost a beloved friend, it's also important to remain in control and consider the feelings of others when dealing with intense feelings like anger and guilt. Just as important, however, we must let others see our need for comfort and share our grief with them. Understand that kids losing pets can be a very confusing time, often this is their first experience with loss. Offer reassurance and support to children during this time.