Loss of pet and grief

Question:

My dog was diagnosed with cancer and died several months later. I’m devastated. How can I cope with this grief?

Answer:

The death of your best friend may very well be the most painful experience you ever go through. It’s not uncommon for people who have lost a pet to literally ask themselves how they can go on.

After all, losing an animal companion can be very different than losing a human loved one. You’ve not only shared so many moments together–playful, tender, difficult, and joyous–your dog has loved you deeply and unconditionally, without question or judgment.

As for dealing with that loss, different coping mechanisms work for different people. No matter how you cope, it’s important to honor your time together and acknowledge the loss in a way that’s meaningful and comforting for you. You may be inspired to put up pictures or create a shrine incorporating your dog’s collar and a candle. Or it may feel right to display a memorial urn.

Sometimes simply sharing your grief with understanding friends, especially those who have dogs or who have lost them, can be tremendous consolation. Many humane societies offer grief counseling or support groups that allow you to discuss these feelings of loss with others.

Above all, don’t hold back the tears and don’t pressure yourself to recover sooner than you’re ready. Know that it is perfectly normal–unavoidable, really–to feel this loss down to your very core.