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Bereavement: Coping with Loss


Learning to cope with the loss:

There are several stages of grief that you must go through before the final resolution:

Stage One - Denial - Often the first response for many pet owners giving them a buffer against the sharp emotional shock.


Stage Two - Bargaining - Faced with an impending loss, often bargains are made offering conditions should the pet be spared, such as "If Sooty gets better, I will walk him every day..........never put him in kennels again...........never get cross with him when......"


Stage Three - Anger - This is part of the grieving process, but anger can be obvious by showing hostility and aggression, or the anger may be turned inward and show as guilt. Sometimes this anger can be shown towards the Vet who has been caring for the pet in the form of questions like "what happened? I thought you were looking after my dog but you killed him!" or "you never really liked Sammy you just took my money now I've lost my pet!"
All outbursts help to relieve frustrations but this is usually at the expense of someone else. Owners also often dwell on the past, "if only....." the regrets are endless. It really makes no difference whether these doubts are founded or not, recriminations do little to relieve the anger. Speaking to someone who has been through a similar experience can often help.


Stage Four - Grief - True sadness that the pet is gone, together with guilt, anger and the emptiness which remains. This is the time when you really need the help and support of family and friends, but sadly difficult to find. Lack of proper support prolongs the grief stage so it may be that the pet owner will wish to seek help from a pet crematoria or bereavement counsellor.
Be assured that it is normal and is acceptable for you to display grief when a companion animal dies, it is also helpful to recognise that other pet owners have experienced similar strong emotions and that you are certainly not alone in this feeling of grief. Do not ever feel embarrassed or ashamed, your pain is very real and your loss heavy.


The Final Stage - Resolution - All things pass in time - even grief, as time passes by the sadness evolves into remembering the happy times, and often help comes in the form of another pet or companion animal to fill the void. Always remember you are NOT replacing your beloved friend, nothing and no one could do that, you are merely filling a very deep void in your heart with another love for a new companion - time to complete the healing.