How to Heal After Grieving for a Lost Pet
In my many articles, I often talk about grieving for a lost pet. The loss of Argo was a deep abyss for me that seemed to have no end.
But at the same time, it was a rebirth. From there, I understood how Argo's love and presence helped me create Flowerpup and create portraits for all those who have suffered from the loss of their own beloved pets, just like me.
I feel that this is a good time for another gentle reminder that grief is your personal healing process and, as such, may feel very different from someone else's. Don't compare yourself to others, embrace your true feelings, and create the space you need in your life to give yourself the best chance to heal. Always tune in with yourself to check how you are feeling at the moment.
Coping with Loss of Dog: My Experience
After my beloved companion Argo left me alone, I spent many sleepless nights and endless days trying to reorganize my life without his presence.
It took months to accept his death and to understand what I could do to overcome the consuming pain.
I spent hours thinking about all the happy moments we had spent together and how we could have continued to create unforgettable memories if only I had more time with him.
Then 1 decided to do something concrete to honor his memory. I started writing a journal where I recorded our most beautiful moments and the lessons I learned from our friendship.
I talk about it in this article: Free yourself from suppressing emotions
In this way, I found some peace and consolation and was able to focus on the beautiful memories rather than the sadness of his loss.
However, I cannot deny that there were difficult moments when I felt lonely and sad.
But by writing, I had the opportunity to put many pieces in place... Identifying 6 key points that often represent the most difficult knots in the healing process.. And the things you can do to suffer in a healthy way for the loss of your pet.
Below I want to share them briefly..
6 Points to Go Through in the Healing Process After Grieving for a Lost Pet
1) Take the Time You Need to Heal from the Pain
The first step in coming to terms with your loss is taking the time to acknowledge that this is real.
Perhaps your pet has been with you for years, and it was part of your daily life, part of you... There is no simple way, it is terribly difficult to accept that your pet is gone.
As you may have already experienced, you may feel like you need to keep busy and move on. This is the moment when a part of you wants to run away from the pain you are feeling... B
ut this can make the process even more painful. So please take time to mourn their loss.
Whatever that means for you, give yourself space to process your feelings and learn how to interpret and manage them. Let yourself go through the whole range of emotions that come from losing your beloved pet... Anger, sadness, stress, resentment, or relief.
Feel them, name them, and let them out, and don't focus too much on how it looks. One thing you can really try is to build for yourself a judgment-free place for grief.
2) Stop Fighting the Pain
It is difficult to accept the pain of losing your sweet furry friend. And it is equally important to accept what you feel as much as to let yourself feel it. It may seem like an easy game, but the fact is that many people resist the idea of grieving.
Some people, although sad, have difficulty because of the idea that there is no reason to be sad or angry because our pets were "just animals."
But the fact is that they were living creatures, creatures with feelings, flesh, and bones. They were our companions! And I am sure that all pet owners who care about their furry friend know when they are happy, sad, angry, or offended. They know when they need to run, take a breath of fresh air, or cuddle on the couch.
The truth is, it is impossible to move on if we do not recognize what has happened.
It is also important to remember that your grief may change over time. You may feel sad one day and happy the next, or vice versa.
That's okay. So yes, the loss is real, as is the pain. And while it hurts like hell right now... This pain also means that there was love there, a unique love, something that you created together with your pet. And, in this life, if losing love is not something worth being sad about, what is?
3) Share if You Care
It happens when we experience strong shocks in life that we do not know exactly what we are feeling. We know that we feel empty, that we feel that life has lost a vital light for us...
But apart from that, it is difficult, especially at the beginning, to understand and talk about what is really in our hearts. You may experience a wide range of emotions. It can be difficult to know what to do with all these feelings and emotions. But it's a good idea to find someone trustworthy to listen without judging.
To make sure your listener is on the right track to help you,
think ahead of what you need from them: maybe you need someone to listen to you without giving you advice, maybe it's the opposite, a person who can help you figure out what you can actively do to manage your grief.
Either way, think about it before asking someone if they can be there for you in a way that is meaningful to you.
You don't have to be alone in your experience.
If the idea of talking about it right now is distressing, think about writing about it.
Writing can be tremendously therapeutic. Whether you're old school and prefer paper, pen, and a stamp, or you prefer to open a blog. In any case, writing can help you put things in order inside you and share what you feel in a healthy way. As it allows you to create the space you need where you can control when and what you share.
Just like I did.
4) Rediscover Yourself
The fourth step to positively face the pain of losing your pet is to reconnect with yourself.
When you are grieving, it is easy to forget yourself.
You may focus on taking care of all the other people around you, perhaps you have thrown yourself into your work, or perhaps the opposite, you have isolated yourself, curled up in yourself like a ball, exhausted, and without energy.
When you begin to wonder if all those things that made you happy will ever bring joy again, it's a good sign that you desperately need to rebuild the bridge with yourself.
Not being in touch with your inner life can increase anxiety levels and lead to depression, which is why it is important to put yourself first.
Find time for yourself and do something that makes you feel good, like taking a long bath or going for a walk. If it seems too difficult, you can ask a friend to help you with this. Perhaps they can come and pick you up to go for a walk together, or call you on the evening you should take a nice bath to check on you.
Other ways you can reconnect with yourself are by resuming an old hobby or starting a new one. Maybe there is also a local group you can join.
Anything that helps you get back in touch with your needs will also have a positive impact on your mood.
In these moments of life, you have to take more care of yourself, because this can really help you find the peace you need and deserve.
5) Honor Your Furry Friend's Memory with a pet memorial portrait
Honoring your pet's memory is a fundamental part of coping with the pain. It helps you stay in touch with their spirit, consolidating the beautiful memories and promoting a faster and healthier healing process. It is also a crucial aspect of your life journey, in a broader sense. Resenting life, holding onto frustration, and nourishing a sense of injustice would lead you to develop the idea of being betrayed by life, which, therefore, will be very difficult to uproot.
Instead, death is part of the journey, part of the circle of life, even when it comes too soon or when it unjustly takes those we love.
It is not even a matter of justice or injustice, and deep down we all know very well that life has little to do with merit. Cultivating these feelings is often a consequence of a sense of inadequacy; you do not feel able to suggest the correct emotional response to deal with the loss. Consequently, it's easy to get caught up in despair, and it can be tempting to resist that pain for a long time.
Some ways, probably accessible to anyone, to commemorate your beloved pet are to choose and print some of their best photos to frame and keep at home or in the office. You could also have a worthy burial for them, and when that is not possible, you can still have a small commemorative ceremony. There is no national law on burying a pet, but many states in the United States have specific regulations to establish the final resting place of a pet. Be sure to check what the best course of action is before making any decisions.
If you think it might help, you can also create a small sanctuary for them. It doesn't matter if you've never done it before or if, normally, this is not part of your traditional background, think of it as something new that you can do to appreciate all the beautiful memories you had with your pet.
Last but not least, you can ask for my help
I can create the most heartfelt, caring, artistic, and personalized best pet portraits. As you may already know, this is what I do best, the thing that helped me cope with the loss of Argo, and what sparked the first spark for the creation of Flowerpup.
6) The Power is Yours
At the end of the road, beyond the bridges, the seas, the undergrounds, and the dark corners and cracks, and all the other places we tried to escape from our feelings, there is one thing that awaits us. Peace.
Making peace with the reality of the facts, with ourselves, with the loss, with the pain. And recognizing what we feel and what has happened.
This moment can be scary to face, but it is also the most liberating.
When you get here, you have recognized your feelings and are finally ready to move on. You have taken the time to process the loss.
You know that whatever happened, happened, and there is nothing you can do about it now. And that's okay because you know deep down that this is part of life. This is the maturation of grief, of our mourning that has closed the circle.
Again, as always, there is no right or wrong way to feel... Some feel nostalgia, want to talk about their furry friend and how beautiful it was.. Others feel more reserved, perhaps built a small altar where they bring a thought every day.
One thing that changed everything for me was gratitude. I make no secret of how having Argo in my life made me a better person. I despite the fact that I would do the impossible if I could have him back. And I am grateful to life for allowing me to be Argo's human mom. I'm sure this sense of gratitude continues to improve my life even now that he's been gone for some time.
Coping with the loss of a pet: Return to Smiling Even
When you realize that it's okay to be happy without your pet in your life, it's a good sign of healing. You have gone through your grief as you would in a dark forest, and you have come out the other side.
The pain is still there, but now you feel like you're breathing again.
Now you are free to remember and honor their memory, but you don't have to hold onto all the pain and sadness you felt in the first place, you are ready to let go.
It may take time before you reach this point in your grief process. Some people may never reach it, while others may reach it years after their loss has occurred.
And that's all absolutely fine.
To delve deeper, you can buy the book Flower Pup: Stories of healing after the loss of a pet.
If you want to know more about how my book came about instead, read the story there Flowerpup Book.