Our pets have the ability to enrich every aspect of our lives – and no pet is more loyal than a dog. For many of us, our dogs are far more than mere pets; they are loved and cherished members of the family.
Of course, death is a natural fact of life, and while it’s easy to ignore during the golden years of your time together, it’s only natural to feel devastated by the loss of your dog as he reaches the end of his life.
When you do say goodbye, you are closing the last chapter of the book of your time together and facing feelings of grief and sadness.
Understand your feelings
Not only is your dog a valued member of the family – you will likely have spent many years together, cared for them and built up an invaluable store of treasured memories together.
No matter your age or situation, our dogs add structure, purpose and endless amounts of unconditional love to our daily lives. This means that when your pet does die, it’s only natural to experience pain, loss and grief.
The grieving process
Grieving is an extremely personal process and no two people will go through the same experience.
While your grief will likely be influenced by factors such as your age, your family, your dog’s age and the circumstances surrounding their death, it is still possible to experience large variations in feelings.
Some people will experience the stages of grief, whereas others may find that their sadness comes in waves or highs and lows.
It’s also common for sights, sounds and smells to trigger a sudden wave of sadness – just the sight of your dog’s collar and pet tag can be enough to leave you feeling lost.
No matter how your feelings manifest, it is important to remember that your grief is valid and feelings of sadness or loneliness are natural during this time.
Cope with dog death grief
Knowing that your grief will gradually lessen over time is probably not much comfort when the pain of their loss is still fresh, but there are some healthy ways in which you can work to cope with your feelings.
Losing your dog is an incredibly personal loss: Don’t be ashamed to admit how you feel and try to surround yourself with encouraging, kind-hearted people who will help you through the worst of the pain.
Get advice from others who coped with dog death grief: Sometimes, a friendly face and a chat with someone who has already been through it can work wonders.
Take some time to look after yourself: Look after your mind and body and take plenty of time to let your heart heal.
Remember the good times: Over the years you will have doubtless built up a collection of photographs and plenty of memories of your time together, now is the time to look back on these memories and remember all the fun times you shared.
Losing a pet can be hard for the whole family: If they are old enough, make sure to explain things to your children and allow them the space to grieve in their own way.
Everyone copes with grief in different ways: What works for one person may not be effective for another. For this reason, it is important to do what feels right for you and work to come to terms with your grief in the way that suits you best.
It will be hard – there’s no sugar-coating it – but over time, you will be able to look back fondly on your years together and remember all the good times with a smile.