Self-Care Essentials When Grieving the Loss of a Pet

You did everything in your power to keep your beloved pet comforted and loved in its last moments, but now […]

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You did everything in your power to keep your beloved pet comforted and loved in its last moments, but now it has passed on and you are left in your grief. When a pet dies, what are some of the self-care essentials that will help with the devastation of the loss of a pet?

The self-care essentials you need when grieving the loss of a pet include being open to grief, keeping your routine, meeting your needs, finding a peaceful outlet to expend energy, reaching out to an understanding friend, and making time to celebrate the life of your pet. 

There is nothing more difficult than having to watch your pet take its last breaths, knowing there is nothing more you can do than hold it, let it know that you have loved it more than you can express, and be there to comfort it when it passes on. Once this process has completed, many owners are left feeling lost with how to deal with their emotions. If this is you, take a look below to find the self-care essentials you need when grieving the loss of a pet.

Be Open To Grief

© Healthline

When losing a pet, it can be very easy to try and avoid those overwhelming feelings of sadness, loss, and despair. After all, going through life while feeling these things is not ideal, nonetheless easy, therefore, many are inclined to push back the feelings and move on. Although this may work for them temporarily, this pushing away of feelings can be something that comes up at a later time, in a more inconvenient setting.

When you experience the loss of a pet, one of the best things you can do is allow yourself to be open to grief and let it run its course. By allowing yourself to feel the weight of your lost pet, you are able to confirm your feelings, let them wash over you, and allow them to dissipate with time. 

If you choose to block out grief and put it on the back burner for a later date, you may notice that you feel heavy, unnecessarily overwhelmed, or that the smallest of triggers get you very upset within a moment’s notice. Therefore, to allow your body to heal long term, you should be open to let it fall apart short-term. This heavy grief is not going to be something that lasts forever, but when it is fresh, allow yourself to feel what you need to in order to heal.

Keep Your Routine

© Brynna Connor MD

When you have a pet, there are going to be parts of your day that revolve around the routine of your pet rather than yourself. This is part of the equation as pet owners, but along with these little moments comes your own personal routine that is removed from your pet. When your animal passes, it can be very tempting to throw routine out the window and allow your days to slip through your fingers, but this may actually do more harm than good.

To care for yourself best through the grief of losing a pet, you should try as much as you can to keep your daily routine in place. Try to keep things as normal as possible through your day-to-day, but along with this routine, add a new routine of allowing yourself to grieve as you need. 

Keeping a routine is a great way to compartmentalize your day and keep things structured so that you are not so inclined to fall apart when responsibilities still exist. However, with this routine, add in a time during the day where you can focus solely on grieving the loss of your pet as well as doing what you need in order to heal. This will keep your mind focused when it needs to be, but will also allow you to grieve as you need among normal day-to-day tasks.

Meet Your Needs

© Care

Before losing a pet, many people find themselves and their lives revolving around the animals that quickly became part of the family. This means tending to their needs as quickly as possible, accommodating their own lives around the needs of their pet, and being sure that their pet is always cared for along with themselves. However, when someone loses their pet, it can be very easy to deny their own needs due to the weight grief has on their lives.

One of the most important self-care measures anyone can take after the loss of a pet is to be sure to meet their own needs. Make sure you are staying hydrated, are eating healthy, good-mood inducing foods, and are caring for your body in a way with respect toward good overall hygiene. 

Many owners find it almost indulgent to care for themselves when their pets die, however, by meeting your basic needs, you will allow yourself to get through the grieving process in a way that may be quicker, or simply easier to bear, than if you were to completely deny your body of its needs. Therefore, to allow yourself to grieve in the healthiest way, be sure to take care of yourself and listen to your body and what it needs in the present moment.

Find a Peaceful Outlet to Expend Energy

© Well + Good

With many pets, many parts of an owner’s day are spent tending to their animal, playing with them, feeding them, cleaning them, and ensuring that they are happy and healthy. Once your pet is gone, you may notice that you have much more time on your hands than you did when they were here on earth. This instant change can be rather difficult for many owners, leaving them wondering what they should do with all their extra free time.

If you have recently lost and need help getting through the grief of that loss, consider finding a peaceful outlet to expended energy. Activities such as yoga, swimming, pottery, bike riding, and other like activities can be a great way to help you get through the grief of loss and bring you peace.

This is typically a stage that follows a bit after someone has lost their pet, but if you are new to loss and really need something to not only fill up your time, but fill up your thoughts, finding a peaceful activity to participate in can be a great way to confront your grief and allow it to pass. Don’t be afraid to try something new and be open to failing, this is part of the process to finding something that you love and can see yourself building on over time.

Reach Out To An Understanding Friend

For many pet owners, they will find that there are two people in the world: those that understand how much a pet means to a person and those that could never imagine allowing a pet into even their backyard. Not everyone is going to understand the heavy grief that some owners experience with the loss of a pet, which is why it is important to not only reach out to someone to talk about, but to reach out to someone that shares the same sentiments.

To care for yourself when grieving the loss of a pet, it is important to find someone to talk through your experience with, but to also find someone who understands how the loss of a pet can bring tremendous grief. Avoid speaking with someone who sweeps the loss of a pet under the rug.

When you are in the fresh new stages of grief after the loss of a pet, one of the biggest comforts you can find is talking with someone who understands what you are going through and the impact that pet leaves behind. Try to avoid talking to someone who is callous about the loss of a pet, as this may not only cause tension between you and that individual, but will cause you to close up and not allow grief to settle and heal with time.

Make Time To Celebrate

It may seem like an inappropriate suggestion to celebrate after the loss of a pet, but allowing yourself to feel the joy of their life can be a great way to help deal with the grief that comes with loss. Your pet was likely never inclined to sit around and watch you mope for too long, so with respect to animals ability to always find the bright side, take time to celebrate the life of your pet once you feel like you can step away from grief.

To care for yourself after the loss of a pet and deal with the grief associated with this loss, try to make time to celebrate the life of your beloved pet as well as other special occasions. Have a nice dinner, offer a toast, or be there for loved ones on their special day to help get through hard days. 

Allowing yourself to feel joy after the loss of a pet will help you to get out of the fog that grief often places within someone’s head. Have a special dinner with all of your pet’s favorite table foods (if they were the table food eating type), share a toast celebrating their life, and allow yourself to have fun and be joyful, even when you feel like you shouldn’t. Being able to compartmentalize your grief after the initial sting has worn off is a great step towards healing.

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