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When the Unthinkable Happens: Tips for Healing

  
  
  

By Amy Breton, CVT, VTS (ECC)

 

Death of a pet

Pets provide companionship and are, without question, part of our family.  Research has shown that people who lose a pet experience the same stages of grief and same emotions as when they lose a human family member.  The loss can be just as devastating.  Unfortunately there is often not as strong of a support system within families for the member who lost a pet and sometimes no support system.  While many people may not understand the grief you are experiencing, it is important for you to understand it is normal and nothing to be ashamed about.

While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are some healthy ways to help cope with the pain.  It’s important to understand that everyone grieves differently.  Even years after a losing a pet, a sight, a sound, or a particular date can spark memories that trigger grief.  Grieving is a slow process that cannot be rushed or hurried. 

It’s important to allow yourself to grieve in a way you are comfortable.  Some people like to create a memorial to their pet in their home, others may create a photo album of their favorite pictures.  Some people write blogs or their pet’s life story.  Others may feel the need to rid the home of anything reminding them of the pet or hide pictures until they are ready to view them later.  Some people may need to take a couple days off from work while others find that they want to go to work as usual to keep their mind off their sadness.  All of these actions are normal.

There are many pet loss support hotlines and websites.  Tufts University, located in Grafton, Massachusetts has trained grief counselors available free of charge to speak to you if you feel you need to talk to someone.  Below is the number to the Tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline and some reputable websites on pet loss.

Tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline:
508-839-7966

Resources for Pet Loss Support:
http://www.tufts.edu/vet/petloss/resources.html

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grieving_pets.htm

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-loss/

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