What to Do When A Beloved Pet Passes Away: Grieving The Loss Of A Pet After Euthanasia
Updated August 28, 2020
For many, animals are considered to be a part of the family. These companions are there for us through both the good and the bad. No matter how we may be feeling, we can rely on our pets to cheer us up and be with us when things aren’t going so well. This is why it can be so difficult when our pets reach old age and related health problems and need to be put down. Although things may seem bleak now, you can work through your grief and return to a happier state of being. If your pet has recently passed, let’s take a look at how you can begin grieving the loss of a pet after euthanasia.
Learning More About Grief: What Does the Grief Experience Look Like?
Grief can be a bewildering experience for many. Despite what we may come across when reading about it, it can’t truly describe what grief feels like when we lose someone or something that we care about. That said, it is better to have an idea of what to expect as you are navigating the grief process.
Grief is a process in which you work through the emotions that accompany the loss that you are facing. You may feel a wide variety of emotions throughout the grief process, such as shock, anger, and sadness. Additionally, no two grief processes are the same. While one person may recover more quickly from their grief, others may be heavily impacted by their grief, which can cause them to struggle with their loss for a longer period.
The most important thing to look out for when you are grieving is that it does not develop into a more serious mental health disorder. But what is normal? Surprisingly enough, believing that your pet is still around or believing that you hear the sounds of your beloved pet can be natural. What may indicate a bigger problem, however, is when grief becomes something that impacts your quality of life. For example, if your grief becomes unbearable, prevents you from engaging in day-to-day activities, and continues to affect you to the same extent over time, you may be dealing with complicated grief or depression.
If you believe that the loss of a pet is something that you cannot handle on your own, you may want to reach out to someone who can provide you with grief support and help you work through these difficult emotions. There are also other things that you may want to do if pet loss has impacted you. Let’s take a look at all of the coping mechanisms available to you that can help you work through the loss.
Grieving The Loss Of A Pet After Euthanasia: How Do I Cope?
The days and weeks immediately following the passing of your beloved pet will likely be the hardest. It is during this time that you will want to fully feel and accept your emotions. If you want to cry, scream, or express your emotions in any other way, this is absolutely okay! You have experienced a loss that has affected your life. This is often where some pet owners can have trouble with pet loss. While we are expected to grieve the passing of loved ones, pet loss may not always be supported by those around us. However, it is just as important to mourn these losses as well.
If you have had to say goodbye to your beloved pet, let’s explore some ways that you can begin working through your grief.
Develop A Support System
Although grief can affect multiple people, we may feel isolated in our experience, especially if the loss of our pet was something that only we had to go through. Even if others have not shared our grief, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there to support us. Our friends and family still understand how much we love our pets, and they will likely be there to help us through these difficult times. Make sure to spend more time with your friends and family while you are working through your grief. They will be there to help you vent, to help distract you when things become difficult, and to remind you that there is life outside of your grief.
Don’t Push Your Feelings Away
There are different expectations when it comes to the loss of a pet. When we lose someone close to us, it would be considered unnatural to not grieve. However, when it comes to pets, some may be expected to recover rather quickly. Remember, when it comes to grief and loss, there are no expectations that you should listen to regarding the length or severity of your grief. Don’t hide your feelings if you feel like you want to cry or be sad. Whatever you may be, the feeling is completely valid. Give yourself permission to acknowledge, experience, and explore those feelings as they come. Pushing them away can make them harder to deal with when they resurface later. Let them in and feel them as they come.
Take Care Of Your Physical And Mental Health As You Navigate Grief
When you’re grieving, you may find yourself getting into a slump that can be hard to get out of. After all, it is natural to take some time to recuperate and work through your emotions. It can also be difficult to get out of your sadness if you begin to disregard your physical and emotional health. Make sure to try to return to a somewhat normal lifestyle as you work through your grief. You can also try to improve your lifestyle by pursuing healthy lifestyle changes like eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and doing more things that bring you joy. When you take care of your body and your mind, you are in a better position to tackle heavy emotions like grief. This will also help you return to your new life as you adjust to the loss.
Memorialize Your Pet And Celebrate Them
Experiencing loss can be hard on everyone who has lost their pet. One way that they can respond is through celebration and memorialization. For example, if you have photos, leashes, or other items of your pet, you can make something like a scrapbook that you can turn to when you are missing them. This is just one idea, but memorialization and celebration may shine a brighter light on the loss that you have experienced. Through thick and thin, they gave you all of the love that they had. Celebrate that commitment and the happiness you received from it!
The grief experience will be different for everyone. However, the ways that we cope with grief can often be the same. Grieving the loss of a pet after euthanasia can be easier with the coping mechanisms and tips listed above. It’s important to remember that you don’t always have to deal with grief on your own.
When Grief Becomes Too Much: Seeking Out Therapy
Whether you simply need help or your grief has impacted your quality of life in a major way, choosing to reach out to a therapist can provide you with much-needed support. Grief counselors can help you work through your grief and give you further coping mechanisms that you can use on your own time.
The good news is that therapy tends to be readily available for most people. Chances are that there is a practicing therapist or counselor in your area. However, traditional counseling can have its disadvantages for some. For example, not every counselor that you meet is going to be the right fit for you. Some counselors may be far from where you live and can make it hard for you to work counseling into your day. If you are having difficulty getting to the right therapist, there are alternatives. One alternative is online therapy.
For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform dedicated to making counseling more affordable and convenient for everyone. Looking for counseling during the grief process shouldn’t add extra stress. Using BetterHelp can help you get in contact with the right certified therapist for you, without having to compromise on your schedule. You may access BetterHelp from the comfort and privacy of your own home (or from wherever you have an internet connection). No matter whether you are dealing with difficult emotions or grief that is developing into something more severe, like depression, a therapist at BetterHelp will be there to help you.
Grieving the loss of a pet after euthanasia can be difficult. If you are currently mourning the loss of your pet, use the guide above to learn more about what grief is, when to seek further assessment, and how you can begin coping with it as you navigate the process. Although some days may be harder than others, you can absolutely get through this.