It’s OK to cry.
Losing a pet is really, really difficult. It hurts – and it’s supposed to. Because the stronger the bond and the deeper the love, the more difficult it is when it’s time to say goodbye. We get it. And every time you lose a pet, we lose a patient. And our hearts are breaking too. We are grieving with you.
As veterinarians, we have clients tell us all the time how they don’t know how they are going to get through losing their beloved dog or cat. It’s important to remember how lucky we really are. Obviously not for losing someone you love so much, but for having someone so incredibly meaningful in the first place.
Losing a pet is awful – actually it’s horrific. It’s going to hurt. It’s still going to hurt tomorrow. But it was worth it. Because no matter how much pain losing someone so special brings, It can’t even compare to the immeasurable love that you had for years.
Certain events in our lives shape the way we think, the way we feel and even our future path. There are important milestones – in some cases marriage, children, graduations, those “big” birthdays and of course the death of a loved one. A huge part of this for many is the loss of a family pet.
Pets are family and in many circumstances they are our “fur kids”. We care for them- they depend on us for all of life’s essentials and in return they reward us with the best gift of all: unconditional love and loyalty.
Our lives and routines revolve around their care and their safety and once they are gone, everything around you will remind you of that “missing piece”. The food and water dishes are gone and that evening walk is now solo and a bit unfulfilling.
The process of grieving is unique to each individual and because of that it’s difficult to fully understand what another individual is going through. The most common stages of grief involve periods of guilt, anger, extreme sadness, disbelief and doubt. Eventually, the desired end result is acceptance and appreciation of time spent together but that can take months, years or longer.
No matter your age or previous experiences, there is never a time when losing a pet is anything but heartbreaking. But I promise, no matter how many tears are shed, it can’t compare with the love, smiles and laughter you shared.
Remember and appreciate them. Honor them. But only when you’re ready. We all have our own stages and timelines.
We extend our deepest sympathy to everyone who has experienced the pain of losing a furry family member. We understand. We care. And we support you.
Resources to help with pet loss-
ASPCA Pet Loss 24 Hour Hotline: 877-474-3310