Saying goodbye to a beloved furry friend is the hardest part of being a pet owner. In today’s society most people consider pets to be a part of the family. Unfortunately, pets do not live as long as humans! This means we almost always outlive them and grieving their loss becomes a normal part of pet ownership. Whether we have to make the decision to end suffering, or nature makes the decision for us, there can be feelings of guilt and regret on top of feelings of sadness and loss.
So how do we cope with these feelings? One method I personally have found helpful is looking through and organizing all the pictures I ever took of the pet that passed away, and then making a photo album of my favorites. This activity brings lots of tears and smiles and is a nice way to remember all the happy memories. I have also made a memory box with my pet’s old toys/bowls/leashes. Personally, I like to have my pets cremated so I can take their ashes somewhere symbolic to me, scatter them and say some nice words and tell some stories with close friends/family members.
Most people understand how hard it is to lose a pet so talking to friends and family about the grief you are feeling can be helpful. Usually, they will have a story to relate to. Heart’s Companion in Reno offers a free monthly support group called Companions at Peace. The support group meets the 3rd Monday of each month from 6-7pm. The ASPCA also has a grief counseling hotline 877-GRIEF-10. If your feelings of sadness are particularly profound, or do not lessen over the course of a few months then it is not wrong to reach out to a licensed therapist.
Clients often ask me when is the right time, or how soon is too soon to get a new pet. The answer is different for everyone! Remember that each pet is a unique individual so you do not have to feel like you are simply “replacing” your beloved pet. Also, your deceased pet would want you to be happy so never feel like you are betraying them. Instead, you are making room in your heart and home for a new furry friend that you will also love. Whether it is the next day, or two years later, the timing has to feel right to you.