Over the course of your pet's lifetime, they become a treasured family member, and a beloved companion.  They are a member of your family, whether human or not.  Pets provide unconditional love, and when they are gone, the feelings of loss are intense.  Although you may not get the same support from family and friends as when a relative or loved one dies, you are still entitled to a grieving process. If you have recently experienced the loss of a beloved pet, continue reading to discover some tips for healing.

First, take the time to grieve.

As we have discussed, the loss and grief is real. There is no need to push your emotions aside or try to ignore them.  Accept that you feel intense emotions, and take the time to process them.  If you need to take time off work or miss social activities, be gentle with yourself and allow that time.  The healing process should not be rushed.  We may want to move on quickly, possibly even find another pet, or stay busy.  But dealing openly and honestly with your feelings is the healthiest way to find true healing.

Second, if children are involved in this loss, help them understand what they are feeling.

For many kids, the loss of a pet is their first brush with death.  This is an opportunity to help them learn to deal with grief in a healthy manner.  For many kids, their dog is their best friend.  Sadly, it is hard for children to understand that pets have a shorter life span than humans.  Although the loss of a pet is an expected part of life, the world seems shattered to a child that just lost their four-legged friend.  Helping a child take the time to process and understand these feelings is an important part of moving on as family.

Third, feel fre to express your grief.

Share with your friends and extended family about the loss of your pet.  Consider having a small family service for your beloved furry family member.  Make a memorial or frame a picture of your beloved pet and display it in your home.  There is no need to sweep your grief under the rug.  Tell others your favorite stories and memories about your pet.  Honor their memory.

Finally, if you are having a particularly difficult time dealing with your grief, consider looking for a support group or professional counselor to help you through this time.

Losing a pet is a common but difficult process, and there are many people available to help you, in both a community and professional setting.  There is not a reason to feel hesitancy or embarrasssment about needing some extra help in getting through this grief.  Every person processes situations differently, and in their own time.  If the feelings of grief are becoming overwhelming, and preventing you from being able to carry out your normal tasks in the day, it is time to seek help.  You do not have to deal with this pain.

The loss of a pet is a source of true and deep grief.  Our four legged friends, birds, lizards, snakes, hamsters, and other creatures become part of our family.  They provide love and companionship in a distinct and unique way from human companions. The loss of a pet is a difficult thing to deal with, regardless of how common and universal it is.  Take the time to be kind to yourself, process your feelings, and help children grieve, and seek help if needed.

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