It is a given that we live a lot longer than our pets that we care for, cuddle and nurture and so much more with them that, it stands to reason that we will, at some time or another will have to come face to face with losing one. Whether you know it’s coming or it’s unexpected of the actual time to say our goodbyes to our fur-babies, it is a sad and emotional time. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with the loss.
Method 1 – Before Your Pet’s Death
Accept your pet’s fate.
At some point, we all will need to come to terms with the mortality of our beloved pets. Even, if the Vet gave a certain diagnosis of the animal’s health and how long it is expected to live for – we definitely need to be ready for that. Preparation is key. There are very few animals that, like pets, have the expected lifespan of humans. If your pet is ill or is a “senior” pet, it’s a good time to talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s continued quality of life of what you can do for it to get comfortable and free from any pain.
Talk with your vet.
When talking with your vet, ask if and how much pain your pet is experiencing. Gather every information that you’ll need based on what your pet is facing. Knowing this will help you make the right decision for your pet, and knowing that you make the best choices for your pet helps you better cope with the loss of a pet. Consider the animal’s quality of life. Ask yourself a few questions before you make the final decision if you do decide to let your pet go. Is (s)he in pain? Can the pain or illness be treated medically, and still offer your pet a good quality of life? Does (s)he have a good appetite? Is your pet happy?
Finally, give thought to whether medical treatment is financially viable for you. For most of us, finances do need to be a consideration, albeit a very unpleasant one. Based on the vet’s assessment and your own judgment, make the decision, with your pet’s happiness in mind. If you’re not sure, consider getting a second opinion from another vet.
Take pictures of your pet.
You will want something to remember it by. Even if (s)he looks sick and miserable, it is very important to take photos and videos, as bittersweet as it may feel. In the future, you may wish to boast about what a wonderful pet you had, and you may want to show people what he or she looked like. Collect anything else you want to remember him/her by. This includes a favourite toy, a blanket, or a decorative element from a tank or cage. Consider taking a clipping of your pet’s hair. You can also dip your pet’s paw in a small bit of paint and place it on a piece of paper that you can later display after the pet has died.
Continue to spend time with your pet.
Despite, its quality of life it is reassuring for your pet to know that you’re there with them until you let go. Let your pet know how much you love him or her, and cherish every moment. They will know that you’re still with them. Animals can sense people auras and what their nature is like from when you first got them to when you’re about to let them go. As that happens, your bond and friendship with your pet grow. Pet your special one in all its favourite places, and above all else make sure s/he is comfortable. Talk and maybe even sing. Do things that your pet has always enjoyed, when still able, like letting curling up on your lap for hours at a time, giving plenty of time to roam in the yard, and eating yummy little treats. If there was ever a time to spoil your pet, this is it. Discuss your pet’s diet with your vet. If your pet is at an advanced age, a change in diet may make your pet happier on many levels – offering a diversity of foods and/or foods that are easier to eat or digest (and help prevent weight loss). At the same time, respect your pet’s wishes; if (s)he wants to be left alone, don’t violate your pet’s comfort. Let your pet have his or her way
Consider staying with your pet during euthanasia. (MORE LATER ON THIS)
I know many people won’t want to come to terms to put the animal down. Yet, it has clearly shown that when you’re with the animal after it’s put down, they’re at peace to know that you’re with them. It is usually a painless and peaceful process for your pet, but most importantly you will be with your beloved pet in its last moments, helping to ease its way along. Remind the vet to give an anesthetizing agent so that your pet goes to sleep BEFORE the actual injection occurs that ends his/her life. Holding and petting your animal can give you as much comfort as it gives your pet, and though it’s a sad experience, it’s one that will help you to feel you did all you could for your pet in this world.
Make arrangements as to what you will do with his earthly remains.
When preparing for the loss of a pet, you also need to prepare for all the practicalities that follow. They are an absolute nightmare if you’re unprepared – and may add to your grief and stress at the time. You want to ensure you’ve taken care of all arrangements beforehand. You may wish to bury it in your yard with or without a grave marker. You can also have it buried in a cemetery or cremated, or you can ask for their ashes once they’ve been cremated and then do a proper ceremony of letting go.
Give family and friends a chance to say goodbye.
Before your beloved pet leaves your home forever, let the people who’ve enjoyed his/her presence know that it’s not going to be around for much longer. You’ve been given a chance to say goodbye, and so should they. Assuming your pet feels comfortable with people, getting attention from various sources will make you and your pet feel more loved.
Method 2 – After Your Pet’s Death
1. Allow yourself to cry.
Bottling up your emotions is not good for you, and you will feel sad forever. Forget all that nonsense that you’re not supposed to mourn an animal as much as you would a person. There was a bond that you cherished, and no matter the nature of the bond, it is missed.
2. Tell your friends about the loss.
You might send out a mass e-mail, but not to everyone in your address book. Send it to those who know you well, and care about you. You will receive many responses that let you know others loved and appreciated your pet and will validate your feelings.
3. Remember your pet.
Don’t pretend you never had one. Even though it makes you sad, it is best to remember and cherish the memories, not ignore them. It may hurt at first, but it’s the only path to closure, and it’s the only way you’ll ever be able to remember fondly your time with your pet. This is a good time to make a scrapbook or post photos on your blog or homepage. Include pictures, stories, and notes about your pet. Read “The Rainbow Bridge” poem online. It will make you feel better about your loss. Create some form of legacy for your pet when they’re gone to be remembered.
4. Get on with your life.
Although losing a pet is very sad, it is no reason to shut yourself up in your house or go into depression. Your pet has always felt comfortable in your comfort, and the sooner you get back on track, the sooner you’ll be yourself again.
5. Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter.
While emotionally, you may not be prepared to welcome another pet into your home right away, the act of helping to care for a homeless pet, a pet in desperate need of a caring human, may help with your grieving and sadness.
6. Do something in memory of your pet.
Plant a tree, donate to a shelter or college of veterinary medicine.
There is so much more you can do while coping after losing your fur-baby as it is quite similar to how it works with when losing a person that you’ve loved and cared about. The question is do you wish to get another pet after losing your first one that passed?
There are many wonderful reasons to once again share your life with a companion animal, but the decision of when to do so is a very personal one. It may be tempting to rush out and fill the void left by your pet’s death by immediately getting another pet. In most cases, it’s best to mourn the old pet first and wait until you’re emotionally ready to open your heart and your home to a new animal. You may want to start by volunteering at a shelter or rescue group. Spending time caring for pets in need is not only great for the animals but can help you decide if you’re ready to own a new pet.
Some retired seniors living alone may find it hardest to adjust to life without a pet. If taking care of an animal provided you with a sense of purpose and self-worth as well as companionship, you may want to consider getting another pet at an earlier stage. Of course, seniors also need to consider their own health and life expectancy when deciding on a new pet. Again, volunteering to help pets in need can be a good way to decide if you’re ready to become a pet owner again.