I run an online pet memorial web site and as you can imagine I come into contact with many people who have lost a much loved pet or animal companion.
Looking through the memorial web sites that pet owners create when a beloved pet passes away has shown my that there are a number of ways that people come to cope with the loss of a pet.
Some people seem to be unsure or even embarrassed about the depth of grief and loss that they feel when a close pet dies. In the back of their minds they may think that others would think "It was just a pet", "only an animal" and be surprised at how the death affects them.
But the truth of the matter is that we form a very special bond with our pets, they become part of the family and we love and take care of them for many years.
Many people confide in their pets (if my dog could talk I'd be in big trouble). Pets help to take us out of ourselves when things are not going so good in other areas of your lives and they have unconditional love to give us. All of this goes to form a special bond that when broken by the death of our pet, goes to make a substantial loss.
Possibly those who think "it's just a pet" have never really formed that special human / animal bond, and this brings to mind the beautiful quote by Anatole France.
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
It is totally okay to grieve for a lost pet and it is also necessary if you had that special bond with your pet.
Many people find that writing down their feeling helps enormously.
A simple heartfelt verse or poem is a very good way to contact the grief that you feel. Writing down your favourite memories, or an expression of the relationship that you had with your pet will go to help with the grieving process.
Others may want to mark the passing of a pet in other ways with a headstone or other physical memorial.
More and more people are creating online memorials and a lot of the people who do say that it actually helps them to focus on their feelings and memories as well as giving friends and family a chance to better understand the relationship that they had with their pet.
It is well accepted that in order to truly come through a period of loss and grief, one must be able to face every aspect of the loss. Focusing your attention on your pet's life and what they meant to you will help in that process.
We sometimes have to cry the grief out to allow the joy of our good memories to shine through.
If you are coming to terms with the loss of a pet or animal companion and if you are finding it difficult, try focusing your attention on your pet, try writing a short poem, try writing down exactly what your pet meant to you. Yes the tears will come, but if you continue to look at those memories and feelings soon the tears will go and you will be left with the good memories. But more importantly you will be able to enjoy those memories once the grief has gone.
Dave Watson is the owner of Sadly Missed Pets.com and has written extensively on pet loss and coping with the loss of a pet. There are many article and resources on the web site and many online memorials created by those who loved their pets. Sadly Missed Pets.com
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