Sometimes special animals come into our lives and touch our hearts in a way that leaves us forever changed. One chapter ends when the familiar road they traveled together comes to a steep y. You are in uncharted territory without a map. Lost. The world as you know it may seem totally different.

Not everyone realizes that the bond between humans and their pets can be deeper than with a loved one. Some people tend to spend more time with their pets than with their family members. Pets don’t judge us or hurt us like humans. The loss of his constant and unconditional love can leave us empty.

There is no best way to get over the loss of a beloved pet. The path through the grieving process is different for everyone. Here are some things I found useful when I lost Maggie, my beautiful black lab with whom I had the most precious relationship:

1. Perform a ritual after your pet dies and invite friends and family who knew and loved your pet. Share stories about how your beloved animal enriched her life and other lives she touched. You can also create a memorial altar with a candle and your pet’s photo, along with other items that belong to or remind your pet, such as their plate, special toys, and a lock of fur.

2. Recognize that grief over the loss of a pet can be exceptionally deep, and honor it by giving your grief the space to be. Allow your tears. Set aside quiet time each day when you can lessen the demands of the outside world. Write in your journal. Allow your pain to express itself and be released.

3. Bring in compassion and understanding from friends and family strangers who support you.

4. Don’t be surprised if some family or friends don’t give you the support you might expect. Allow yourself time off from friends who don’t understand the depth of your grief, who try to minimize your loss because you are an animal rather than a human, or who have unrealistic expectations of you in this vulnerable time.

5. Let people know if you need to talk about your lost pet. Many well-meaning people may try to change the subject to make it easier for you, and you may need to let them know that it’s okay to talk about it.

6. Find a local or online pet loss support group and use the national pet loss hotlines.

7. Take care of yourself. Get a massage. Take walks in nature. To meditate. Have lunch with a supportive friend. Do what feeds your soul.

8. Know yourself well enough to know whether having a new pet at this time will help or hinder our grieving process. Some people do well jumping right in with a new dog or cat. Others may resent having a new animal in the house too quickly.

9. Help the animals in your local humane society or participate in the many breed rescue groups in your area. You can help ease your pain by allowing your lost animal’s love to become part of a larger purpose, such as helping and caring for homeless animals.

10. Try new things to discover more about yourself; those creative endeavors you’ve often considered but never tried.

We all have to face pain and loss eventually. He is one of the great equalizers of life. Let the death of your pet affect the basis of who you are, as death often does. When we experience a loss, it can be a good time to let go of what no longer fits in your life; What are you not? In my case, after losing Maggie, I changed both personally and professionally. I hope my steps on the path from loss to healing can benefit you now in your time of loss. As devastating as the loss of our beloved animals can be, this time can also be an excellent opportunity to examine our purpose in life and find new meaning.

© Permission to reproduce granted with credit to the author.

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