It’s the absolute worst part of being a pet owner, but it happens to all of us. Your pet is not doing well and you’ve come to terms with the fact that it is time to let go. Your heart breaks as you think back over the wonderful life you’ve had together. I’ve been there 3 times in the last 2 years. It’s awful. It’s heart wrenching. When it’s time to say goodbye to your precious fur baby, how do you cope?
The first thing you need to know is that there is no right way to grieve the loss of your loved one. Grief looks different for everyone and that’s okay. Some people will feel guilty and some will feel relieved, especially if they’ve had a pet with medical issues. Some people will want to rush out and get another pet so their home doesn’t feel so empty. Some people will never want another pet again. All these feelings are normal. Be kind to yourself. This may be one of the worst things you’ve ever gone through, but, over time, it will get better. Here are some things that may help:
1. Take some time for yourself. Losing a pet is a horrific deal. Do something you love. Your pet would want you to be happy. You spoiled them for years, wouldn’t they want the same for you?
2. If you need to cry, go ahead and cry. Do not let people tell you “he was just a dog” or “she was just a cat”. That pet was your baby for a time. It is okay to mourn the loss of your friend. Seek out the company of a good friend or family member. Talk to them. If you feel your grief is too much, or you don’t feel you can talk to your friends or family, seek out a professional. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help.
3. You may feel horribly guilty about “giving up” on your pet (don’t). Or you may feel incredibly relieved that your pet is no longer struggling. Whatever you feel, it is normal. It is okay to be relieved that you no longer have to medicate your pet 3 times a day and keep them on strict diet. You may feel like you can finally breath again. It’s fine. That does not make you a bad person. It makes you human.
4. You may want to get another pet, but aren’t sure how long you should wait. Do whatever is best for you and your family. If you are ready for a new member, go ahead. There are plenty of animals that are waiting for a new and loving home. You are not replacing your old friend. If you need time or if you feel burned out, take a break. This can be especially true for those who have been taking care of a special needs dog. There is no rush.
Losing a pet is hard. There is no way around it. We hope these few points will help you in your time of need.