Coping With The Loss Of A Pet
The shock and grief that come with the loss of a pet are profound. In the eyes of God, your grief and loss are very real, and you will find comfort over time. Consider Matthew 5:4, which says: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Others may not empathize with the depth of the relationship you had with your pet, but that doesn't mean it was never true. People consider their pets to be family, and pets love their humans just as much. Don't feel shame or guilt for the passing of your dear animal friend, but treasure the special moments you shared with your pet.
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Coping with the loss of a pet may feel impossible, but believe that you will with God's help. There are healthy ways to work through the grieving process to feel more at peace and comforted.
Tips For Coping With The Loss Of A Pet
1) Trust That God is in Control of All of His Creation
Any pain your pet may have experienced is no more. There is no more suffering, and your pet is now at peace. Let that ease your heart.
2) Recognize Your Grief as Valid
It's not a random animal that you lost. Your pet was a treasured member of your family.
Recognize that your grief is valid. Past research supports the fact that a pet loss is as devastating as the loss of a friend or family member. No single person grieves in the same way, and there's no timestamp on the process. At least 87 percent of pet owners feel one symptom of griefafter their pet's death. Six months later, 35 percent of pet owners continue to experience grief, and over a year later, 22 percent still feel that painful loss.
How long your grief lasts and how you choose to grieve are all valid. You might feel the five stages of grief as you would for any loved one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Take the time you need to grieve your loss in all of its stages and know your pain is real.
3) Reach Out to Loved Ones Who Have Lost Pets
Other pet owner friends and family have experienced the pain you are going through and will empathize with many aspects of your grief. Reach out to your loved ones and let them give your heart comfort.
Share stories of the beautiful memories of your pet and talk about the struggles you are going through in the face of grief. There are also many online resources and forums to have discussions about pet loss and coping with the pain. Let others help carry the weight.
4) Honor the Passing of Your Pet
As you would with the death of any loved one, a funeral service and memorial will help you mark the passing of your pet. It's not "too much" to honor your pet this way, because your relationship with him or her was important and transformative. Your pet had a sweet, wacky or grumpy personality and is a unique being, just like anyone else!
Gather with family and friends to tell stories about each of your pets. Invite others to bring photos and food, as with any memorial service. Create a special scrapbook with photos of your pet and record memories of him or her from your loved ones. Looking back on these memories will help ease your pain.
5) Write It Down
When a loved one passes, you may not feel like speaking at all. You don't have to say anything, but do consider journaling as an option. Writing helps you work through the grieving processand assists you with keeping track of how you are feeling. A journal is not a place of sadness but of growth, and you can also write about the happy times.
No matter how little or how much, let the words flow from your pen and heart to the page. No one else has to read these words, but a journal provides a place for the feelings to go and a refuge for your heart when no one else seems to be listening.
Offer up your grief to God, for it is not a burden to Him. He is always listening. No matter how jumbled your words are, let your heart speak to Him. God knows your heart the best.
Take your Bible and read Revelation 21:4: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away." As the suffering of your pet has ceased, time will also heal your suffering. Let Him share your pain and let Him wipe your mournful eyes.
Your pet has found peace, and you will also find comfort as the weight of grief eases. With the help of family, friends and God, the burden will not feel as heavy. Reach out to others and honor your pet's memory. Know your grief is valid, unique and a reflection of the powerful bond between you and your pet.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer on a mission to change the world and help people live happier, more enriched lives. She is also the founder of the career and happiness site Punched Clocks.