I’m so sorry! Grieving for an animal can be overwhelming, especially for people who consider animals part of their family.
We miss their touch
Touch is such a big part of our relationship with most pets. It sustains us, calms us, reminds us that we’re not alone. And when it’s gone, we miss the cold noses, the snuggles, the hairballs, and even the stinky farts.
Routines we enjoyed with them change, throwing us off-kilter
- First thing in the morning, we open our eyes to seek our beloved pet. Gone are the days when a cold snout precedes a morning kiss or a head butt alerting us that it’s breakfast time.
- Our bodies are attuned to when it’s time for a walk. We get the leash, shake it, and call out a name before reality hits us. They’re not coming on a walk.
- We call them for kitty treats and no one – or one fewer soul – appears.
- That favorite sunspot on the floor is empty. The cozy corner of the couch, where there’s a permanent indent, remains empty, unoccupied.
Loss of a companion
We grieve over the loss of our companion. Not just “a dog,” “a cat,” “a horse,” “a guinea pig,” or “a lizard” – but the loss of Frisky, Ralphie, Pee Wee, Eddie, Missy, Mitsubishi. We miss their personalities, their love – even the behaviors that drove us a bit crazy.
And those conversations
We miss our conversations – we talked to them, about them, about our day, about the other animals in the family. About Aunt Mildred. I think they enjoyed our chats, too (except when they were being chastised). Sometimes they even understood us.
Shoot, I haven’t lost an animal since 2012, but I’m tearing up just writing this. At this point, you should imagine my son Pat saying, “Mom! Toughen up!” But I can’t, at least not about this.
Grief is sacred
Because grief means you loved them, you cared about them, and you miss them. Grief honors them. We don’t grieve those we don’t love or care about. We may feel sad – or sad for the person who is experiencing the loss. But that’s not the same as grief. To me, grief is a sacred emotion.
Don’t stay stuck in grief
The truth is your animal lives. My experience is that animals’ souls and personalities survive death. Two of my animals have come to me after they died. And I’ve collected a BUNCH of stories about animals checking in on their people after their animals “left the planet.”
Please allow the grief to lift slowly as you remember them fondly and know they haven’t forgotten you.
Let go of guilt and second guessing
I’ve met a lot of people who feel guilty about euthanizing their pet. So far, the animals I’ve met haven’t held grudges. If you made this most-difficult decision with love, they understand.
If you still can’t shake your guilt, talk to your animal. Yes, I know they’re “dead,” but they’re still available for a conversation! Explain what led to your decision and ask their forgiveness. It helps.
Ask them to contact you
You’ve got a better chance to feel their presence when you release guilt. Instead of the guilt, focus on how much you love them.
Be forewarned, you probably won’t get a text! But there are a lot of other ways they can let you know they’re visiting.
You might catch a quick glimpse like their tail just leaving the room as my friend Gail did!
You could feel them sleeping on the bed next to you or sitting at or on your feet. Maybe you’ll hear their bark, meow, or neigh.
They might visit your dreams.
Your other animal might do something that only the animal who passed used to do. (In this case, I think they agreed to help the animal come through).
And you could ask me to help you contact them.
Hugs all round!