How to Cope with the Loss of Your Beloved Dog
I was recently honored and privileged to provide a gentle, loving massage to a hospice dog and be part of his send off to the Rainbow Bridge. It brought back memories of the loss of my own dogs and cat, and the deep and special connection I had with each one of them. To honor the memory of all the dogs that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I am re-posting this blog on coping with the loss of a beloved dog.
Our dogs are loving members of our family. They bring us unconditional love, loyalty, affection and companionship. When it’s time for them to leave this earthly life, it can be one of the most difficult and heartbreaking decisions to make. The loss is devastating because these special beings give us unconditional love and accept us for just who we are. We deeply mourn their passing and grieve for our great loss. It takes time to grieve the loss of a human loved one, and losing a dog is no different. We need to give ourselves time to process our feelings and emotions. There are many ways that can help soothe our sadness and grief, and celebrate the dog we so loved and cherished.
Take Time To Process the Loss – everyone grieves in their own way and no way is wrong. Allow yourself the time to process your feelings and emotions. Sit in silence or listen to soothing music. Take a walk outdoors, at the beach or in a garden. It’s ok to cry and be sad.
Join a Support Group
Some people may not understand the depth of your grief from the loss of your dog, especially those that do not have pets. You may also have feelings of guilt at not knowing if it was the right time to let them go. A support group for grieving pet parents may be helpful for you. It can give you the opportunity to share your grief with other pet parents in a supportive and understanding environment.
Working with an Animal Communicator can help process your grief. For those that believe and from my own personal experience, this can be a very comforting process.
Celebrate and Remember Your Dog
There are many ways you can celebrate and remember your dog.
Plan a memorial service. This can be helpful for both pet parents and their children by giving you an opportunity to express your grief and say goodbye.
Put together a photo album or scrapbook of photos and stories about your dog.
Create a shadowbox with your dog’s collar, leash or favorite toy.
Plant flowers in your yard, perhaps in your dog’s favorite spot.
Donated to your favorite dog rescue in memory of your dog.
Get a doggie tattoo.
You may want to create a memorial item or memento to remember your dog that you can display in your home or carry with you. Make a ceramic paw print with a paw prints kits or have your dog’s name or paw print made into a necklace or charm. You can even create a holiday ornament or quilt.
Remember there is no single way to grieve the loss of a dog. Just take the time you need to process your feelings and emotions and when you’re ready, choose the way best for you to remember and celebrate the life of your dog.
For more information on grieving the loss of your dog:
Find resources at the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavment.