Colleen Mihelich is the founder of Peternity.com, which sells pet memorials, pet grave markers, pet urns and other keepsakes. She’s authored numerous articles on dealing with grief over the loss of a pet. Peternity is based in Southern California.
There is no denying the endless love, joy, and companionship that our pets bring into our lives. The undying loyalty and friendship they give so generously are truly irreplaceable. But I think the one part of pet ownership that we all wish we could live without, is having to let them go when they reach the end of their lives. Pet loss is never easy, and we are often surprised at the depth of the pain and heartache that we feel. These are some tips that I often share with grieving pet owners. I hope that they can help to bring some comfort to you too.
- Remember that our pets want us to be happy. They live for it. Knowing that, more than anything, I think, is one of the secrets of accepting the loss of a beloved pet. Who has been there for you during the tough times in your life? Who licked your tears? Our pets just want us to be happy. As a tribute to your pet, try to let go of the sadness and heartache. Try to move forward and find some happiness in even the smallest things in your day. Before you know it, these tiny moments will grow into longer moments of joy and happiness, and somewhere, wherever your dear friend may be, he or she will be tickled that you’re happy..
- One really effective way of taking your focus off of your own loss and pain is to shift that focus onto someone else in need. Volunteer your time helping others. Volunteering at an animal shelter might be too close to home, but you can also give your time to the elderly, a soup kitchen or to some kind of children’s organization. If you do choose to do something to help animals, make sure that you’re emotionally strong enough to handle it.
- Most of the experts advise not to jump into getting a new pet right away, especially if you have children. Everyone heals at their own pace and makes their own journey through grief, but giving yourself some time to be with the loss and move past some of the more painful feelings before bringing a new pet into the home is usually a good idea. If you have other pets in your home, they may also need time to adjust to their friend being gone before dealing with the introduction of a new pet into the home.
- The century’s old ritual of memorializing loved ones through ceremony and formality still lives on today because it helps us to mark a significant event in our lives. The act of ritual also allows us to begin to move forward into the process of healing. Memorializing your pet can be as elaborate as having a pet memorial ceremony and burial, or as simple as writing a letter of love or goodbye to your pet. Do what feels appropriate for you. For some, the simpler the better and for others something more elaborate feels like the right thing. There are many levels in between including a pet keepsake box, a scrapbook of photos and memories, a pet urn or a pet memorial marker in the garden.
Remember that the love you shared with your pet will always be with you. Your pet’s spirit and the memories that you created together live on for eternity.