Some people think it’s strange or inappropriate to grieve just for a dog. However, contrary to that belief, the death of one’s beloved dog can be exceptionally difficult to deal with.
Experts predict that over half of the human population has a dog at home and the average life expectancy for dogs is 15 to 16 years. Hence it is safe to say a majority of people will experience the death of a dog at least once in their lifetimes. However, for a lot of these people, the death of their dog wreaks havoc on their emotional health. This happens because each dog is different, as are it’s owner’s feelings and coping mechanisms.
You’ll want to stay people who say: ‘he was just a dog.’ You know who these people are, they’re the ones who really never understood the bond between you and your dog in the first place. Oftentimes, they’re trying to be helpful, but chances are their attempt at comforting words will only make you feel worse. Then there are also people who will attempt to get rid of your grief or put your loss in context by saying things like: “it wasn’t a child, just a dog.” You’ll want to stay away from these people too because though they might be trying to help they can’t truly understand what you’re going through.
Emotions can get pretty complicated when a pet dies. You probably expect to feel sad, but you may have other emotions too. For example, you may feel angry if your friends don’t seem to realize how much losing your dog means to you, or perhaps, you feel guilty that you didn’t spend more time with your doggy before he or she died. It’s natural to feel a range of emotions when a dog dies. But try to stay away from guilt and anger, try to grieve in the most positive way you can because that’s what your doggy would want.
Stay connected with friends who make sure you have fun and who take your mind off of things. Dogs especially can help seniors meet new people and regularly connect with friends and neighbors while out on a walk or in the dog park for example. Having lost your dog, it’s important that you don’t now spend day after day alone.
Open up to someone you trust. You aren’t alone. Let someone special in when you are in a dark place. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone no matter how bizarre or embarrassed you may feel about your own situation. There is someone in your life who has dealt with similar emotions and who wants to help you.
Lastly, give yourself time. Emotional healing is a process so don’t try to rush yourself through it. Don’t let others force you through it either. Moving on doesn’t take a day, it takes lots of little steps to finally be fully healed, and maybe once you are you’ll consider getting another doggy.
*Special shoutout to Dyna who unfortunately left us 3 weeks ago, she was world’s best pup from 2009-2017 and she will be dearly missed. Rock the doggy heaven Dyna!