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How to cope with the loss of a pet

Virginia Chavez is a Phoenix-based freelance writer covering pets and lifestyle in the Southwest. In addition to regular contributions both online and in-print, Virginia locally owns and operates two pet care and supply businesses. For t...

Tips for pet-loss grief support

Pets are more than just animals, they are family members. We bring them in our homes, introduce them to our friends and even include them in our Christmas cards. In return, they provide us with the type of loyalty and unconditional love that is a rare thing to come by. Losing our best friends means feelings of sorrow and loneliness that can be tough to overcome. While it’s never easy losing a loved one, the following tips can help ease the pain and learn to cope through the grieving process.

Memorial of pet dog

Don't give in to guilt

Even though we do the best we can for our four-legged companions, feelings of guilt are common through the grieving process. Questioning ourselves on the decisions we make for our furry friends can always leave us wondering "what if." Some of the toughest decisions are made during our pets' final days. While these decisions are undoubtedly tough, our pets rely on us to do what is right for them and their well-being. Pets are amazingly intuitive and trust that we have their best interests in mind. It is important to always remember that just as we know how much they love us, they know how much we love them.

Celebrate your pet's life

Whether you plan a memorial, create a scrapbook or compose a video montage of your pet, find a way to honor your pet's spirit. A memorial is a great way to involve family and friends who were a part of your pet's life and provide closure, knowing your pet was loved and will continue to live in the hearts of others. A scrapbook or video montage makes a great keepsake and allows you to cherish the memories made with your pet. Thinking of the many ways your pet made you happy is the best way to ensure their legacy continues for years to come.

Find support

There may be some people who are not as supportive or understanding when it comes to losing a pet. Surround yourself with others who know what it's like to have animal companions in their life and can relate to the bond you shared with your pet. Research support groups near you that can provide advice as well as a shoulder to lean on. Your local shelter is a great resource to help you find a pet-loss support group or direct you to a local pet-loss helpline.

When the time is right, introduce a new family member

A pet-less household has a subtle silence that only pet lovers can understand, since we know how little things like the pitter-patter of gentle paws coming to greet you can lift our spirits when we need it the most. Getting adjusted to a home without a pet can be tough on the entire family, and children are quick to ask for a new pet to fill the void. Introducing a new furry family member can be a great decision when the time is right. Though we will never stop missing our pet, the best thing we can do for them is to let their spirit live in our hearts. Only time will tell when and if it's right to bring home a new pet. If you're ready, making the choice to provide a loving home for a new friend is a great way to continue your pet's legacy. Your pet would be happy knowing that another furry counterpart has an opportunity for a wonderful life.

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