Losing anyone close to you can be devastating. The same is true of losing your dog, cat, or any pet. Over time, you might find peace in the happy memories of your pooch, but right now, dealing with your dog’s death can be challenging.
This feeling is healthy. Your grief reflects how much you loved your dog and how close you were, after all. But figuring out how to deal with a dog’s death can still be tough. Whether your dog has passed away unexpectedly, by illness or through planned euthanasia, the grieving process is equally hard.
How do you mourn them? How do you deal with the change to your routine? And how will you remember them? Let’s take a look at how you can deal with a dog’s death:
Allow yourself to feel it the death of your dog
The death of a dog is just as valid as any other death. So, letting yourself feel all the emotions surrounding this loss is okay.
Tears release stress hormones, meaning you’ll feel better after crying. If you don’t need to cry tears, this is okay too. Find your own way of mourning and processing the death of your pet. Everyone is unique.
Have compassion for yourself – practice self-care
You are going through a grieving process. So be kind to yourself and remember to participate in self-care. Whether you’re into warm baths, yoga, creative hobbies, journaling, or meditation, it can help you feel better. Be sure to make extra time for your typical activities.
Try mourning the death in traditional ways
Throughout all known human history, we have always had rituals to help us cope and grieve the pain of loss. Maybe you don’t exactly want to hold a funeral for your beloved dog. But, certain rituals could still help you to grieve.
A place to go to remember your dog, such as the place you may have buried them, or a photograph or favorite toy can help comfort you. Some owners like to write letters or record vlogs for their dogs.
You could even have a memory box with plenty of photographs, old toys, and keepsakes like your dog’s collar, leash, and tag.
If your dog has a big family or friend group, it may be comforting to have a gathering to remember your dog. If you are burying your dog, invite everyone over to say a few words or just to be there.
Reach out to someone who understands what you’re going through
Talking about your feelings is a beneficial thing to do when you are grieving. That’s why finding a support group or even going to therapy is a good idea. Try talking to a friend or family member who has also lost a pet.
You could even see a therapist or join an online support group. Someone who understands what you are going through should be able to offer plenty of helpful advice for dealing with the loss of your dog.
If you have family or friends living with you or who come on walks or to the dog park, you may like to share memories with them. This sharing may be as simple as just chatting to them now and then when you are together,
Find a way to keep your dogs memory alive
What better way to honor your love for your dog than to memorialize them? Many religions feature ways to memorialize loved ones, such as a headstone, urn, or memorial shrine. This may be a great way to cherish your dog’s memory if you belong to a religion.
Why not get creative too? For example, try writing a poem about your dog or making a collage of your favorite photos of them. You could even draw or paint your pooch and display this in your home, remembering them every time you look at it.
Nowadays, there are also many online services with beautiful ways to remember your love for your dog. For example, you could get art made from your favorite photos of your pooch, or even have their remains made into a lovely piece of art or jewelry.
If you had an online account for your dog, why not continue to share memories of them even after they’ve passed? This is a great way to pay tribute to your dog’s memory.
Clear your dogs items at your own pace
There is no right or wrong way to mourn. While some people may like to get rid of everything their dog used to use pretty soon after they pass away, others may prefer to keep some things around.
Holding onto some of their favorite toys or bedding may be a good way to remember your dog, but you might like to bury them with a few of their favorite things. Equally, doing something meaningful with your dog’s items, like passing on some of their leashes, collars, or harnesses, may prove therapeutic since now you know another dog is using and enjoying them.
You could also do something creative with your dog’s things, like framing them in a collage or making a memory box. I like to keep my dog’s old tag on my coat zipper and remember him while I zip up to walk my other dogs. It’s entirely up to you – grieve at your own pace.
Preparing yourself for putting your dog to sleep
If you have to put your dog to sleep, you’ll be able to prepare for the immediate changes to your routine.
Maybe you walked together to the dog park or around the block every day. This routine is social. When your dog has passed away, you will have anticipated the changes to your pattern and be prepared for them.
But don’t be afraid to keep up parts of your routine even after your dog is gone. Those meetings and playtimes in the street and parks are a large social element of your life – don’t just stop seeing your friends suddenly. You can still go for your walks around the block.
If your dog is a family pet or a popular dog in the neighborhood, you must explain their death to others. Be ready to use age-appropriate terminology and analogies for young children and to explain again and again.
It’s never easy to lose anyone. But, after going through the grieving process, you can find peace from the positive memories of the times you spent together. Your dog will always hold a special place in your life, so it’s not surprising if their passing away causes you severe grief.
But over time, you will be able to move on. You may even adopt another dog, but only if this is right for you. Be sure to grieve at your own pace.