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I Need Your Help . . . How Do You Grieve a Lost Pet?

I've received several messages lately about dealing with deaths of a furry loved one. Since I haven't experienced this since I was a young child, I wanted to put the question out to all of you in the hopes that your suggestions can help others feel better and cope with a loss.

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dorisaurus dorisaurus 7 years
Hi Sugars, My sweet kitty Otoro was diagnosed with a highly fatal condition on Monday. We're trying medication, since I can't afford the surgery (which has only a 20-60% success rate). I haven't lost all hope yet but he is my first pet...only 3 years old and I adopted him in January. I can't believe this is happening. I want to keep up hope, but it's been really hard. It's a bit of a comfort to know many people here have gone through the grieving process before and come out the other side.
lilegwene lilegwene 7 years
Sid - Thank you!
Sid-Korpi Sid-Korpi 7 years
As an animal chaplain, I work with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss. I cannot tell you how frequently I hear that, for the true animal lover, losing a pet is harder to handle than losing a human being. Before anyone gets up in arms over this statement, remember please that we are given "permission" to grieve a human loss, but that kind of compassionate support is often lacking when we hurt over the death of an animal companion. What we're then forced to do is either rush our grieving process so as not to make others uncomfortable or to bury our emotions altogether out of fear of being seen as somehow unbalanced for experiencing lingering sorrow. It's no wonder pet loss is a form of disenfranchised grief. People would not say to someone who'd lost a child, "Oh too bad about your kid dying. Good thing you can always adopt a new one." However, they tend to have no compunction about telling us to get a replacement pet right away. While I was writing my book, "Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss," I received a steady stream of thanks from pet owners who were enormously grateful to simply have their feelings acknowledged and validated. Our love for our pets is pure and untainted by the complications we experience in our human relationships. It is only reasonable that losing a friend like that would leave an enormous void in our lives. My suggestions for ways to help you navigate your grief include: Contact a pet loss support group or an animal chaplain/grief counselor in your area; post a memorial on a pet loss website such as; volunteer your time to help other needful animals as you heal rather than race out to replace your friend prematurely; hold an actual memorial service to both celebrate your pet's life and grieve his or her passing; create something artistic in your pet's honor (such as a song, poem, drawing, sculpture, etc.); and finally, when you feel you are really ready, open your heart and home to another shelter pet.
missy1632 missy1632 7 years
1 year anniversary, I mean
missy1632 missy1632 7 years
Noxcatt... I have a "G" hidden in the wing of a butterfly on my lower back for my Shepard Gypsy (got it on the 1 years anniversary of putting her down) and am considering getting a pawprint for Bindi at some stage.
noxcatt noxcatt 7 years
I had to put my german shepherd down this past december. She was mine for 11 years. I had her since she was 2 months old and i had to let her go because i couldnt keep her with my living situation (recently living on my own w/ my bf) and my parents moved out of the country, not being able to afford to ship her. It was truly the most devestating thing Ive had to do. It only hurt so much because I feel that she had a couple years left and i had to make the choice to put her down because her anxiety and age would have made it almost impossible to adopt from a shelter. Nor did i want to see her in a shelter. She was there since i was 11 and now shes gone and it still feels weird. I am planning on getting a small tattoo for her. I know how you guys feel and trust me, there are people that appreciate your love and devotion to your animals. Don't ever let anyone make you feel different.
missy1632 missy1632 7 years
Thank you so much for answering this question, pet... I was one of the people who messaged you about it. I was feeling really disheartened when I heard nothing back.... so thank you for addressing this. I, for one, really appreciate it. I lost one of my cat's, Bindi, on the 18th of April... and yep, crying and taking the time to grieve is about all you can do. The reason I messaged you, was that I searched this site for help and came up with not much (aside from posts about celebs who had lost pets)... I miss him so much and with his brother grieving too, it's just heartbreaking... and I am at a loss. I give Bender (Bindi's brother) as many cuddles and as much love as I can give, but he is so sad :( and it is very apparent. You know what else is hard? Thinking that no one understands... that's why the internet is so great (well, one of the many reasons) I went online and did manage to find a pet loss support site and was able to share my story and it did help just by putting it 'out there', but in real life, I felt like people were thinking 'get over it, it was just a cat' and this makes you even sadder... thinking you have to put on a brave face and get on with it, but the fact is... pets are a part of the family and you see them everyday and interact with them, love them every single day and when they are gone... my goodness, can you feel it *sigh I feel guilty when I am even remotely happy now... and although my family have briefly discussed getting another cat... I am a bit opposed (though I would LOVE another cuddle buddy, just not for this reason and I’m in too much pain to contemplate it right now). Nothing will ever replace Bindi. It is amazing the effect pets have on their owners. Also I have gone through the thought that I don't ever want to go through this again (ie: not getting another pet)- but then I think I wouldn't give up the love I have for Bindi and the love he had for me, even if it meant not feeling this bad right now... He was a very special part of my life. (I miss seeing his little face at the window waiting for me when I arrive home from work- all those little things that add up to make life so enjoyable with fur babies). Every now and then I think 'there's no point continuing to be sad, there is nothing I can do, nothing can change what has happened' but it really is hard to move on, and go back to being happy when you feel like something is literally missing. I have lost a pet before... our beloved family German Shepard, Gypsy, who had to be put down due to her back legs going 'bad' with age... and yes that was very very hard.. and I experienced guilt over whether putting her down was the right thing to do and missing her very badly- though deep down I know it was the best decision... but since now losing Bindi (by way of him being hit by a car :( ) I feel so privileged (now) to have been able to say goodbye to Gypsy... a luxury I didn't have with Bindi... Bindi was only 3 years old and I am stuck with this feeling that he was taken away from me... and that I did something wrong to deserve this. (I also think Bender thinks this too, or did, at least- as he ignored me for about a week after Bindi died and wasn't interested in cuddles from me, but was 'open' to receiving them from others in the family). He is coming around now and we have had some serious cuddle sessions, but he has spent about 5 minutes in total in my bedroom since Bindi died- a place where he used to sleep all the time. Sorry I have babbled on... thanks for listening.
Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
Cry, cry, cry and cry some more. I find that writing in a paper journal helps as well. I've written an "obituary" for each of my pets that have passed away in my journal that describes what they meant to me and some of my fondest memories of them (whilst I'm crying). I also tape or glue in my journal my favorite photos of them if I have photos of them. My pets are my family so I grieve over their loss as a loss of a family member.
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
PetSugar, Does your site have a grief support group for pet loss? I think that this could be very helpful for those going through the process. It always helps to be around fellow animal lovers! :)
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 7 years
Cry and miss them like crazy, that's what I do. The most helpful, compassionate thing anyone has ever said to me after losing a pet, my beloved Lakota Dog, was this: "Losing a friend is always hard." That friend acknowledged that Lakota was my friend, too, and that made me feel like someone understood what was going on.
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
*and the special memories and the happiness for them having been in our lives take over.
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
Cry, cry, and cry some more. I have loved many dogs and cats over the years, and they are in every way members of the family. It hurts like hell when they leave us. Over time, the pain of the loss eases and the special memories and the take over. My first dog passed away nearly 25 years ago. To this day when I visit my parents, I expect to see her happily waiting for me and wagging her tail at the top of the foyer stairs. That always makes me smile. My longtime vet also does something that is really special. Upon a passing, she will make a plaster cast of a pet's paw with their name etched above. It is very comforting to be able to touch the little indentations while going through the grieving process. I'll keep them with me forever.
xgreenfairyx xgreenfairyx 7 years
That's a really hard question. I knew three dogs that died, and all were pretty sad. One was sudden (she had a heart attack), and the others were painful and slow. I know most people thinks its ridiculous to cry over a pet, but I did a bit. Hell, they were better than most humans I know. I just had to keep reminding myself that I took care of them the best that I could, and hoped they were happy when they were around.
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