“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ” – Anatole France
Over the past few weeks, close friends, family, and even clients have been struggling with the inevitability of pet loss. Most of us understand that we will most likely out live our pets, but that does not prepare us, or make the transition any easier.
Our pets are furry, feathered, finned, and scaly children. They greet us, wait for us, nurture us and 100% depend on us. Our pets are so much more than "just pets"; they are our family.
When we grieve, we experience cyclical waves, much like the ocean, of emotion. There is little difference between grieving a close family member and a pet, with one exception. The pet is more intertwined with your personal daily life (ie cats push bathroom doors open, dog will always greet you at the door, etc). These small details often extend and make the waves of grief seem more severe for some.
As a member of the pet loving community, and as a therapist, the last few weeks have really hit home in assisting individuals in the grief process. Here are a few things I've learned, and been gently reminded of.
There is a difference between grief and grieving.
Grief does not go away - but it does change.
Finding a way to honor your pet family member helps transition from grieving to healing.
When it comes to honoring and remembering your pet child, there is no right or wrong way. Remember that grieving is just as individualized as your relationship with your pet. Below are some ideas to help you brainstorm the most appropriate way for you and your family:
Using the water bowl as a planter with their collar around the base.
Utilizing a crematory service and having the ashes made into a cosmic glass piece or jewelry.
Creating a photo book, slide show, or memory photo board.
Crafting a memorial in your home or yard.
Talk about your pet loved one.
Hold a memorial service for them.