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Experiencing the 5 Stages of Grief after losing a pet

Experiencing the 5 Stages of Grief after losing a pet

Fur parents and pet lovers might have the same question in life: why do pets have a shorter lifespan than us? Why do we have to experience the pain of losing the loved and treasured pet that we have shared a lot of memorable moments with? To be honest, being sad is an understatement. Some people have their worlds shut for an extended period after realizing that their “best friend” is now out of reach for cuddles and hugs. It’s undeniable that we also experience the stages of grief after losing them.

Just the thought of losing the dogs who never fail to wag their tail whenever you come home from a day-long errand, or the cats that just pretend to ignore you but still bumps their head on your leg and give you the cutest meow ever, is heartbreaking. It may take days, weeks, months, and even years, before you can fully accept that we can no longer turn back the time and restart everything so that we can spend more time with them.

As time goes by, you will realize that you are going through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance; and you will wonder, “on which stage am I currently in?” Here, we will try to find out.

Denial

The numbness will be all over your heart and head, and you will not be able to accept the reality that has taken place in your life. You will wish that your pet was just pulling a prank on you or just in a deep sleep; but unfortunately, they are not. Even if you know that your pet has passed away, it will be hard to accept that they will not be coming back to you. During this stage, you will still imagine their presence and may picture them in their favorite place.

Anger

This is a completely natural emotion. Death is unfair and unacceptable; especially when it’s your loved pet who has to experience it and you will think of all the things that you have planned with them. Depending on the situation, you may feel anger towards yourself and take the blame for not keeping your pets safe or failing to save them.

Bargaining

Once again, death is unacceptable. You will still be incapable of accepting the reality that there is nothing that you can do. If you are religious, you will beg God for a different outcome, even with the awareness that it is impossible. You want to believe that things will get better if you do this. Your head will also be full of “what ifs” and wishing that you can go back to change things with the hope that it will make a difference and you won’t go through the pain of losing a pet.

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Photo: Carlos Aliperti

Depression

This may be considered your darkest times. The sadness, longing, regrets, and other emotions may attack you all at once. You may not be able to help it as you have treated your pets as an important part of your life and they will just go to their heaven and leave you alone. This may come in waves or may be very intense; hence, you may seek someone’s presence while you are in the process of healing or you may choose to do it alone.

Acceptance

Your emotions may become so harsh to the point that you will think that it will never get better; but eventually, the pain will gradually ease. It’s still there, but it may hurt less. The “Acceptance” stage does not mean that you have completely accepted the fact that your pet is gone, but rather accepting that you can continue living even with the fact that your days will no longer be shared with them. You may never “move on” from their death, but you will be able to move forward while carrying the memories that you had.

Photo: Ingrid0804 | flickr
As you read this, you may be either the fur parent who reminisces about that moment because you just recently experienced the pain of losing your precious pet or the one who’s currently looking for your pet at the moment to cuddle since you realized how hard it’s going to be once they leave. Remember that your pets may just exist for a part of your life, but you exist for the entirety of theirs; and they will miss you too.
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