When You Have to Say Goodbye
The worst part of having a dog is saying goodbye. Whether the “time was right” or occurred suddenly, their loss can trigger intense emotions that are hard to handle. Sometimes, we can even be surprised by how much we hurt.
People don’t spend a lot of time talking about pet grief, but it can affect us on a deep and emotional level. Dogs play a unique role in our lives and give shape to each of our days. We wake up to let them out and feed them, plan our schedules around walks and bathroom breaks, and look forward to snuggling after a long day. They make us laugh, lick our faces when we cry, and are happy to see us no matter what. When they’re suddenly gone, it can come as a tremendous blow that’s hard to recover from. But we often keep these feelings to ourselves and struggle through our days alone because it’s hard to understand the emotional impact animals make on our lives.
It’s never easy to lose a dog, but several things can help you through the healing process.
Change things up
Try reorganizing your daily activities and routines. If your dog was your walking companion, for example, see if you can head out with a friend instead to explore a new neighborhood.
Find social support
If you don’t have friends and family you can turn to while you grieve, there are local and online support groups so you don’t have to feel alone.
Read books and articles
There are several resources available on navigating pet grief, including Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die by Jon Katz and the article Why We Need to Take Pet Loss Seriously by Guy Winch.
Make a memorials
Your beloved dog may be gone, but you can keep their memory alive with memorial activities. Plant a special perennial in your yard or make a donation in their name to your favorite animal rights organization. The possibilities are endless; you can even turn their water dish and collar into a planter or get a Maggie’s Light™ memorial candle.
The main thing to remember is that recovering from the loss of a beloved companion takes time and you don’t have to rush yourself.