"In Memory Of Pets "
THE JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF "
are the general steps of grieving, which have been
abbreviated for easy reference. We recommend that
you copy and paste or print this page out.
You may find it helpful in realizing that grief is
a perfectly normal human process. It has a beginning,
a middle and an end. This does not imply that you
will not feel sad sometimes in remembering the loss
of your pet, but the sharp, sometimes painful feelings
will diminish with time and are often replaced by
memories of happier days when you and your pet shared
Crying: While this seems an entirely expected
reaction, the first few moments of realizing that
your pet has died can produce a number of strange,
emotional reactions. An outburst of crying, anger,
hyper activity even a form of giddy laughter can follow
the shock of knowing. It is generally short-lived,
lasting for only minutes immediately following the
A strange sense of numbness and emptiness: Often
the bereaved person will feel somehow disconnected
from their surroundings, as if they are simply walking
through a dream.
Disbelief: For the first few days, immediately
following the death of a pet, many people experience
a period of denial. Some even think they hear or see
their pet, and for a moment will react as if the pet
is still living. The thought that their pet is actually
not coming back seems impossible.
Guilt: As the days begin to pass, it is not unusual
to feel a very strong sense of guilt. People will
go over the days leading up to the death and often
feel that if they had reacted differently, their pet
would still be alive. This is especially true when
the death of a pet has been very sudden or the result
of an accident. Children will often try to 'bargain',
some turning to prayer and asking God to bring the
pet back to life in return for promises 'to be good'
(5) Profound grief: Like all human emotions,
the depth and length of this period will vary according
to the individual. This period of genuine realization
that your pet has gone forever marks the beginning
of the true grieving process. It can occur within
a few days or sometimes it may be as many as six months
before this process takes place. A very deep sense
of loss, and occasional bouts of crying typify this
period and can last, on and off, for several days
(6) Acceptance: Generally within about 6 months,
the sharpness of the pain of grief begins to diminish
and people begin to adjust to life without their much-loved
companion. They are able to speak about their loss
more easily, and begin to remember the happier times
when they were together. This marks the end of the
grieving process, and while people may continue to
have occasional 'sad thoughts' about their lost pet,they
are usually brief. These occasional moments may continue
throughout life and are quite normal.
THINGS THAT HELP "
Talking: One of the most
helpful ways to begin the healing process is to try
and speak about your pet and your feelings of grief
to a close and trusted family member or friend. Shutting
out the painful feelings will only make them last
longer. By talking to someone you trust and whom you
know will be compassionate and understanding, you
will be able to accept the loss and return to a normal
life more quickly.
Ceremony: Many people today find that honoring
their pet's life helps them to adjust to life without
them. There are a variety of ways in which you can
memorialize your pet which help to keep you focused
during the first days of grieving. These activities
help to fill the emptiness and give the bereaved an
opportunity to express their deep feelings of affection
and sadness at their loss. It may be as simple as
writing a small poem in memory of your pet or assembling
a special book of pictures. More and more people today
also choose to have their pet's remains individually
cremated or buried at a pet cemetery. Most veterinarians
are able to assist you with such arrangements.
(3) Posting an Internet Memorial: Many people
today are turning to newer methods of honoring their
pet's life. In-Memory-of Pets.com was established
for just this purpose. This is an entirely free service
and your memorial is posted permanently. If you do
not have an Internet service, ask a friend who does
to help you post your memorial.
WHEN TO SEEK ASSISTANCE "
are a few basic examples of when you or a person you
know may require some extra assistance from a good
friend or professional grief counselor.
Depression: Symptoms include the long-term loss
of interest in activities which used to be entertaining,
loss of appetite, insomnia or an interruption in normal
sleeping patterns, withdrawal from socializing (including
telephone conversations), feelings of hopelessness
or even suicide. These are serious warning signs of
distress and every effort should be made to seek help.
If you, yourself find yourself 'falling into this
dark and unhappy mood' try to understand that this
is a genuine illness. It is not something which you
should think of as embarrassing or a sign of personal
weakness. DO NOT HESITATE to call a professional.
A veterinarian, religious leader, or grief councilor
is trained to assist you and to help advise you. Depression
almost always makes us feel as if nothing will help
and it can become an almost overwhelming effort to
just pick up the phone to take the first step towards
recovery. Remember that this is the depression 'talking'.
MAKE THE EFFORT. It is vitally important that you
take this first step and call for assistance. You
will surprise yourself with how understanding and
helpful your professional advisor will be.
Guilt: While feeling guilty is part of the normal
grieving process, for some people it becomes an almost
overwhelming problem. This is especially likely to
occur if your pet has died suddenly or as the result
of an accident. If you find that you are spending
a great deal of time thinking about how you might
be to 'blame' for not recognizing that your pet was
ill, or that you feel that it is your fault that your
pet died as a result of something you did or did not
do, seek the help of a professional. Again a veterinarian,
religious leader, or even your general practitioner
are good advisors to help you over this 'stalled'
phase of the grieving process. A professional person
with a less involved view-point can help bring you
back into a more realistic understanding of your feelings
of guilt. It really all boils down to this: An accident
is an event which occurs with no premeditation on
the part of those involved. Just like making a wrong
left turn and possibly damaging your car, remember
that it was an accident. You certainly didn't purposefully
set out to damage your shiny new car, now did you?
In the case of an unfortunate death caused through
and accident or undetected illness, you may have to
accept that your actions of thinking may have been
more wisely handled, but you must acknowledge that
not for a single moment did you intend to cause any
harm to your pet. The only person who can blame himself
for the injury or death of a pet is a person who from
the very start, fully and consciously attempt to cause
harm. Otherwise, how can you possibly consider yourself
guilty? Your advisor will help you to see, we are
all human, and as such, our actions are never perfect.
The grieving process is a deeply personal and individual
emotion. Therefore it is important for you to remember
that the information contained above is GENERAL INFORMATION
and may not accurately reflect your own experience
with grief. Some people will pass through certain
stages of the grieving process faster or slower that
others. It depends entirely on your own personality
and life experiences. It is also a generally held
belief that individuals living alone, especially those
of us who are senior citizens may experience a longer
healing period. Also, people who have lost a pet suddenly
or due to an accident may experience a more profound
and painful grieving period. This is perfectly normal.
Those of us who live alone with a pet often develop
a very deep, personal attachment and the loss of such
a daily companion can be a very hard load to bear.
When a pet dies suddenly and unexpectedly, or as the
result of an accident, there is often a greater feeling
of grief and sometimes profound feelings of guilt.
If you are finding your loss particularly stressful,
you may wish to talk to a close friend, relative,
religious or medical advisor whom you trust with your
personal problems. Depression is the most serious
emotional problem which you may experience. Today
medical authorities recognize that depression is a
real, physical illness and can be successfully treated
with counseling and/or new medications. If you find
that you are losing interest in things that used to
interest you; if you are finding that your normal
sleep pattern has changed - either sleeping too little
or too much; if you find yourself withdrawing and
not wishing to see friends or go out; if you are not
eating regularly, or are less interested in your appearance
and personal hygiene, make the effort to speak to
a close friend or professional about your problem.
Often talking it over will help you to heal.
Should you find that you are having persistent thoughts
of death or suicide as a result of your grief. We
strongly recommend that you contact your healthcare
professional. Or you may wish to discuss your situation
with a grief counselor. Look in your local telephone
book under Distress or Grief Counseling. Professional
counselors are available twenty-four hours a day.
These people are highly trained and your discussion
with them is entirely private and confidential. The
service is free, and designed to help anyone who is
experiencing emotional distress. You should not feel
embarrassed to talk. Depression is the most common
illness of the modern age. Every year literally hundreds
of thousands of people experience this illness. The
good news is that it is also one of the most easily
'curable' of all emotional disorders. Grief is as
individual as each person! There are no hard and fast
rules. However, if you think that you or a friend
is having a particularly difficult time with the loss
of a beloved pet, there is help.
that you are not alone.
By reaching out you will surprise yourself with how
many people will understand and want to help.
By : Timothy R. Laurence
"In Memory Of " Pets
Copyright © 1998,1999 , 2000