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Coping With The Loss Of A Pet

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Pets for Mental Health

Pets add immeasurably to quality of life….

so much so that I have often advised clients

to get one in order to improve their mental health.

Pets can give you a reason to get up in the

morning if you suffer from depression or grief.

Pets can help lower blood pressure and relieve

symptoms of anxiety and PTSD.

They are a source of unconditional love in a

world that is full of uncertainty and conditions.


The Stronger the Bond…

So when you have bonded with an animal…

whether it be a horse, a dog, a cat, a pig,

a bird, a hamster, a fish…any pet…and

that pet becomes ill or simply lives out it’s

life and dies, the grief that you feel will

be as profound as the depth of the bond.


The Stress of Pet Loss

Many people think that it’s either silly to grieve

for an animal or that there are more important

things to feel bad about than the death of a pet.

Psychologists, mental health professionals, and

veterinarians (to name a few) know differently.

The death of a pet can be as stressful to a

person as the loss of any human family member.

It can profoundly affect the individual’s

mental health and immune system, as loss

changes daily rituals and routines, removes a

source of love and stress management, and can

bring up past experiences of other deaths and

losses that are painful for the person.


Coping with the Loss of Your Pet

Performing rituals to honor the memory of your

pet such as planting a tree, scattering ashes,

or creating an album of photos and memories

can help a family to get through the loss together.

Making your family a safe place to talk about

feelings, to cry, to express grief and loss will

make it easier to move through grief for everyone.

Although sometimes it can help to distract yourself

from the grief, continued distraction will prevent you

from feeling the real feelings of loss that are there,

and complicate the normal bereavement process.

There is no way out but through, so know that

when the urge to cry hits, go with it if at all

possible. The more you can let yourself grieve,

the better you will eventually feel as time goes on.


Resources for Coping

There are many excellent resources to help you

or someone you know cope with the loss of a pet.

I have listed some here and you can click on the links.

If you know someone who has recently experienced

the loss of their pet, remember to send cards, make

phone calls, ask how they are doing…show the

same level of compassion and concern as if they

had experienced the death of a friend or family

member.  It will be greatly appreciated.


The Rainbow Bridge

Grieving for Pets and Humans : Is There A Difference?

Grieving the Death of a Dog or Cat

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement


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