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Helping Grief Processing After Loss Of A Pet

Grief can be an overwhelming emotion and one that can severely impact our lives. Studies of this emotion have revealed that species does not limit our experience of grief. Losing our companion animals has been shown to be just as devastating as losing a friend or family member. Managing our experience of these emotions is, therefore, just as essential to our well-being. The grieving process is very personal and is influenced by both our social groups and culture. As a result, everyone’s grieving process will look different.

Steps You Can Take To Help Process Grief After Loss Of A Pet

Self-care is vital during periods of emotional distress. Grieving can be a long, painful, and exhausting experience both physically and emotionally. The grieving process helps us adjust to a life without our loved one’s presence. While precious, the memories of our pets can be painful as we try to adjust to a life without them. With these steps, you’ll be able to work through your grief and be able to hold those memories dear while moving on.  

  • Give Yourself Time – Grieving doesn’t have a set timeline, and there’s no way to rush it. Our busy lives don’t often give us a moment to pause and reflect. Doing so is a critical part of fully processing our emotions. This step may mean taking time away, avoiding social groups temporarily, and putting activities on hold. Without proper time to process, we may shove these emotions down. Burying emotions tends to bear bitter fruit down the road.
  • Reflect On Your Life Together – Reflecting on our lives can be a challenging experience on its own. Reflecting on our life with an absent friend can be even more so. Using storytelling, writing, art, or any other form of expression can help us immensely. Remember to focus on the positive parts of your life together, without avoiding the hard times. Both of these experiences form the totality of your time together and deserve to be honored.
  • Take Care Of Yourself – Throughout the process, you must take the time to care for yourself. Failure to eat correctly, sleep loss, and improper hygiene can make the experience harder. Guilt is a common motivator behind failing to take care of yourself, don’t let it consume you.
  • Practice Calming Exercises – Mindfulness is essential during the grieving process. It helps you stay aware of your current state, your moods, and when relaxation is necessary. Meditation can help when the emotions feel overwhelming. This practice comes in many forms. You can listen to music, go on walks, do yoga, anything that puts you in a place of mental reflection and calm.

Consult Your Mental Health Professional For Additional Help

One resource that those suffering from losing a pet often forget is their mental health professional. Grief is a valid emotion, regardless of what you’re grieving over. Whether it’s a lizard, rabbit, dog, rat, or human best friend, it’s a genuine experience of pain. Seeking help from your mental health professional will help you process this emotion in a healthy and constructive way.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.