The death of one’s dog is a painful event in life. After all, he was a member of the family for many years. This is precisely why it is so important to grieve the loss of your long-time animal friend properly. You do not have to be ashamed of it at all.
By their very nature, man’s best friends have a limited life expectancy. Therefore, sooner or later, the time will come when you will have to say goodbye to your beloved four-legged friend. Considering the close bond, this is always a heavy loss, accompanied by immense grief for the animal.
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“My dog is dead, it hurts so bad.”
No more joyful barking when the front door is unlocked, no more tail wagging around the legs and no more wet dog snout on the knees. My eyes fill with tears at the sight of the empty food bowl.
No one should be ashamed of this – the death of a beloved dog can be very painful, as studies show. But there are many ways to cope with a beloved dog’s death.
Helpful mindset tools and strategies to help you better cope with the grief of losing your dog
It can help to talk about the loss of the dog. For this, you can turn to family, friends or other like-minded people who can understand your grief.
Support groups also offer a way to share. Some veterinarians specialize in grief recovery that you can turn to if your dog has passed away.
Forums on the Internet offer the opportunity to talk about the dog’s death with other dog lovers. These people will understand and perhaps even sympathize with your grief. In the same way, you can find a hearing at counseling centers.
Pet cemeteries have proven to be not only a place of remembrance but also a place to meet and exchange ideas with other affected people.
What helps us say goodbye to your beloved dog?
A dignified funeral for your dog
When the cat or dog dies, the world breaks down for the owner. The first step towards an easier way of coping with grief is a dignified burial or ceremony. – This allows us to better accept the final farewell, beloved dog.
In addition, the funeral creates a place to grieve. However, keep in mind that there are laws for independent pet burial. Without a garden of your own, it is advisable to use public pet cemeteries and pet crematoriums.
Cremation also offers advantages over burial in the ground, which is only possible under certain circumstances.
An animal that has lived with you for so long will never be forgotten. Remembering your dog as he was alive is essential in coping with grief.
Create a photo album, watch old videos or have a painted picture or paw print. A tattoo with the deceased pet’s name or portrait is an especially great token of love that isn’t for everyone. Some keep a few strands of fur or the pet’s ashes and have a piece of jewelry made from them.
The possibilities for creating a beautiful keepsake are endless. In your grief, you have the chance to remember the moments you shared with your pet when the pain comes.
Sharing grief – exchange with other dog owners
If your dog dies, it can help to talk to others who have already had this terrible experience. This is possible both in direct conversation and with the help of books. You can also talk about the grief in forums or personal conversations with friendly dog owners. This helps you to cope with the death of your dog.
How do you cope with grief?
If your dog has died, you should always allow yourself the time to grieve properly. Allow your feelings free rein. At first, you will probably still have the feeling that your four-legged friend is still there. When you come home, you may call for him habitually.
In this stage of coping with grief, you must first accept that your dog is indeed gone. This may be accompanied by emotional outbursts, mood swings, and other depressive emotional states. Allow these feelings to help you process them. If necessary, it may help to take a vacation to deal with this challenging first part of the grieving process in peace.
It can also help to create specific windows of time to remember your dog. For example, go for a walk using your four-legged friend’s favorite walking route. It will be painful at first, but the positive memories will outweigh the grief over time.
The best strategies for dealing with the grief of losing your dog.
Perhaps you are wondering how best to deal with the loss so that the unspeakable pain subsides. Unfortunately, the simple and sometimes disappointing answer is that there is no universal panacea for dealing with grief.
However, experience shows that for many owners who are grieving the loss of their dog, the following aspects are of great help:
- Allowing themselves to be comforted
- To study the experiences and stories of others affected
- Seeking exchange with other affected persons
- To analyze and process feelings of guilt and self-reproach
- Set a memento for your dog that symbolizes that you will never forget him.
Comfort is an important aspect of coping with grief
Grief is a process of adjustment that depends mainly on the factor of time and your willingness to look at your situation through a different lens. – For one person, this process is faster and more straightforward. For another, it takes longer, and two steps forward are followed by one step back. Therefore, it is important to open yourself to comforting views and to keep them in mind.
This also means that, on the one hand, you have to allow yourself to find comfort and, on the other hand, to create a real awareness of the aspects of your situation in which comfort can lie. For example, you can shift your focus away from the loss and instead see the time you have been given together as a gift from fate.
This turns a bitter perspective about the loss into a grateful and humble one that can show you how privileged you are to have been able to spend part of your life with your dog.
These and many other impulses can be internalized to bring about a “healing” and overcome the grief better than if you just let time work for you.
The situation remains difficult, of course! But I assure you that no matter how down you feel right now and how much you are grieving, you will be able to cope with the situation if you open yourself to these ways of thinking.
A new dog to cope with grief?
How much time should pass before getting a new dog after the death of a beloved one? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question because everyone deals with grief differently. While some take months or years to get involved with a new dog, others get a new one after just a few days.
Both are fine. Getting another dog quickly doesn’t mean you grieve any less. But by all means, consciously allow the grief and don’t repress it.
For many people, a new animal helps them cope with grief. That is also perfectly okay. It is only important that you regard the new dog as an individual animal, not as a replacement for the deceased one. Because every dog is different, the new dog will probably be quite different from your old one. With its preferences, character traits and peculiarities – and that’s a good thing.
Are you already ready for a new dog?
Usually, your gut will tell you whether or not you are ready for a new dog. But if you’re not sure, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- If you don’t live alone: talk to the other people in the household. How are they doing? Are they ready for a new dog?
- Think about your deceased dog: Does it still fill you with pure sadness, or do you reflect on your time together with a smile?
- Imagine having a new dog: Does it automatically make you think of your old one?
- Ask yourself if you unintentionally have “expectations” of the new dog. For example, how would you feel if the new dog differs from the old one?
- Go to an animal shelter and look at the dogs there. Does this make you feel more melancholy or excited about a new animal?
- Think about your life circumstances: Has something changed? For example, is it possible that you no longer have the time or space for a dog?
Children and the death of dogs
Children are usually hit particularly hard by the death of their beloved dog. Some have spent their entire lives with the animal and are coming into contact with the subject of death for the very first time.
For them, it doesn’t make much difference whether an animal or a human has died. To process this drastic experience, children need support. It is wrong to protect the children from the painful experience and to invent stories about the animal’s “whereabouts”.
Let your children share openly in the grief and treat the death honestly. It is equally unhelpful to your children to immediately obtain a replacement animal, as a living being cannot be replaced. Instead, take the time to listen and answer questions to help your child through the difficult time.