by guest author Holli B. Shan, Pet Loss Grief Counselor and Animal Communicator
At some point in our lives as devoted pet owners, we will experience the loss of our beloved animal family members.
After such a devastating loss, it is human nature to not only emotionally grieve that loss, but to mentally and physically mourn as well.
Your grief process is not only normal, it is also part of being human and the healing journey. You are not alone.
Grief as a Process
Grief is a process as well as a feeling and an emotion. Grieving is something that we go through when a loved one has passed on.
It doesn’t matter if the loved one was a human or an animal companion. My teacher, Teresa Wagner says “Grief is indifferent to the species lost”.
I would also add to that we grieve so very deeply because we loved just as deeply. What matters is there is an emotional bond between two beings.
Also, everyone will experience grief in their own way. For some, grief is for a short time because the passing was expected and the bereaved has had time to prepare themselves.
For others, the passing of a loved one may be unexpected or sudden, and will likely take longer to work through a person’s grief process.
Grief is Normal and Understandable… and Valid
The most important thing to remember is that for people who are grieving, their feelings are not only completely and totally NORMAL, they are UNDERSTANDABLE!
It’s well within your right to cry, yell, punch pillows or even just be silent (among other things).
Two wonderful coping methods that have helped me and may help others are to either journal about how you feel or draw it out (if you like drawing). Remember, no one needs to see your writing or your artwork – it is for your own path to healing.
Grief has no timeline. Everyone’s grief process is their own and it is important to honor that.
For some people, they need to tell the story over and over again until they are done. For others, they prefer silence.
Both of these methods are NORMAL and ACCEPTABLE coping mechanisms. This is a process and each individual will work through it in their own way towards healing.
If the bereaved person wants to do a memorial or something to honor the memory of the animal who has passed, they can create the memorial as a reminder of the animal as they lived, and to make them smile or “lift their spark” when thinking of their beloved animal companion.
Platitudes are Never a Good Idea
When other people tell someone who is grieving the loss of a beloved pet that “It’s been 6 months, you should be over that by now. Afterall, it was just a dog,” they are being more hurtful than helpful.
If you, as the bereaved, have experienced something like this, you can tell that person their comment isn’t helpful, or you can ignore it outright, depending upon your relationship with the other person.
This is one of those moments where platitudes are rarely helpful. Would you believe I’ve heard about people using this exact same sentence when someone else’s father died? If you wouldn’t want someone to tell you this while you’re grieving, then consider not saying it to someone else while they are.
Remember to Care for Yourself
The main thing to remember during your grief process is that it’s important to be gentle with yourself during this time.
Take the time to rest, drink plenty of water and nourish your body with healthy foods, and don’t be too concerned about eating comfort foods now and then if it helps you.
You are undergoing a difficult, emotional time. As humans, we come with a complete set of emotions. It is healthy to allow yourself a grace period to feel all of the feelings you were born with. What exactly “feeling the feelings” looks like will vary from person to person. It all depends on you; be kind to yourself.
If your sadness and grief lingers and you have trouble recovering, let me help guide you through this. Click HERE for information on how to get started on your road to recovering and healing your broken heart.
Have you lost an animal? What did you do to heal? Be sure to leave your comment below!
Enjoyed this article? Here are some other popular posts you might like:
4 Gentle Suggestions for Coping With the Loss of a Pet
Coping with Pet Loss: Understanding Death, Dying & Transitions
Are You Highly Sensitive and/or Empathic?
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