When will I be ready for another dog?

Question:

My dog passed 6 months ago and I still can’t think of getting another dog–will I ever be ready?

Answer:

The first thing that comes to mind is that this question is really second behind another issue that needs to be addressed. “Have you done your mourning work first?”

Definitely the first step to be addressed with your heart is the “mourning work” that will move you into your new normal regarding the pet that died. In our grief work, we first need to recognize that the word “grief” is actually our inward thoughts about the loss of a loved one. “Mourning” is our outward thoughts–the actions that are done to move us through to Grief Resolution.

My first recommendation would be for you to actively mourn the loss of your pet that died six months ago. The Six Needs of Mourning the Death of a Pet can best be summed up with the acronym “AARFFF.” These needs are:

  • Acknowledge the reality of the death.
    Allow yourself to be dosed with the reality that this death has occurred–bring yourself to the acknowledgement in your own time frame through “active mourning.”
  • Allow yourself to hurt.
    Hurting will allow you to heal.
  • Remember your pet.
    Memorialize your pet in the manner that best represents the lifestyle that you and your pet shared together. A simple walk in the park, the planting of a tree or flower, lighting a candle, journaling, or even a memorial service to honor the life that you shared together are all good ways to remember and pay tribute to this love in your life.
  • Find your new role (responsibilities) in a life without this pet.
    Through actively mourning, you will move to a new “normal” in a life without this pet.
  • Fact and feeling finding for your heart.
    Let your heart guide you through this journey. Your head will try to rationalize your feelings but your heart will let you feel, and hurt, your way to healing.
  • Find your friends for support–those friends that will empathize with your loss and understand loving a pet.
    Bring those that understand the love of a pet close to you for support. For those that don’t understand this love, you will need to temporarily tuck that relationship away until you heal.

When your mourning work is done, your heart will be ready to love and adopt again. Your heart will know when that time has come.