Each loss in our lives is uniquely different. Whether a relative, child or significant other, the pain that we feel in the loss of a pet enters areas that involve a shared bond like no other. Our beloved furred companions are confidantes and friends, and it’s the interdependency that is outside of the boundaries of those that we share with people. It’s important to understand that each of us experiences and expresses grief differently and that there is no “normal”. Creating a pet memorial is very personal and the same is true in the way that we go through the grieving process.
There is no doubting that losing a pet can be devastating. The relationship that we have with our pets are both simple and complex, and our lives are wrapped around the love, affection and time that we devote to them. For some, the loss can turn their world upside down, leaving them ineptly incapable of functioning. The anxiety and stress is at such a high level, that they completely break down. Their furred family member was such an integral part of their life that they lack the coping skills to get passed the loss.
Others go through the motions of understanding a loss but in more of a shock situation. While they may cry at the planning of a dog funeral or pet memorial, it is only momentary. They may seem and act as if nothing has happened and that their lives have not changed, and people on the outside will comment that they are handling the loss so well.
When you experience the death of a pet, only those that have gone through it can truly understand the emotional roller coaster that you feel. Some individuals want to take action to try to adapt to a new life without their dear friend; others will leave everything in place and make no changes at all. No matter what you choose to do, it is your choice and you are not obligated to explain yourself to anyone. This is your personal grief journey and you need to do what you feel is right.
There are common loss experiences that occur whether we lose a person or a pet; and in some cases, we may not have recognized how deep our relationship until we lose them. A pet can be so much more than what some consider and in the moment that they are gone, each of us needs to understand that our reactions are our own and may be unexpected.
Although the passage of time does allow us to adjust to a different life without our beloved pet, it also offers the opportunity for the healing process. Just as with our human loss, the passing of our best furred friend will leave a hole in our hearts that never truly goes away. Each of us honors our pets in different ways and our grief has neither any definition nor time limit. Allow yourself both the time and method that you require for the loss that you feel.