Dear Labby’s advice on grieving for a pet

Dear Labby,

It was May 25, 2009, when I had to let go of my Shepherd mix best friend, Maxine. It’s now March, 2010, and I’m still very emotional. After almost 17 years of great memories with Maxine, old age caught up to her. I promised her I would let go when she was not having fun with life anymore. I honored my promise to do what is best for her, but the heartache is amazingly difficult to deal with. After her passing, I have noticed there isn’t much out there for grieving the loss of a pet. Could you give me advice on how to deal with these feelings? I want to get another dog but won’t until I get a grip on this first. I hope you can help.

Signed:

Having Endless Anguish, Rough Time Accepting Circumstances of Hound’s Exit

My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved Maxine. Though my degree is in petiquette, not counseling, grief is an important issue and one that deserves space in this column. The loss of a family member or friend, whether human or other, is painful, real, and unique to each circumstance.

Dogtime offers a variety of resources on the topic – you’ll find an introduction and a list of helpful articles here:

Grief

I encourage you to read as much as you can, H.E.A.R.T.A.C.H.E., but in the meantime take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Allow yourself to grieve. Don’t put a timetable on recovery and don’t let anyone make you feel silly for devastation at the loss of an animal.

Sometimes the local SPCA or Humane Society will offer pet loss support groups. That may or may not be your cup of kibble, but it’s worth trying once. Volunteering can also provide an excellent focus for channeling grief: tending to animals who desperately need kindness can be tremendous comfort.

Readers, I need your help on this one. Please post a comment if you have words of support, wisdom, or condolence for H.E.A.R.T.A.C.H.E.