In this collaborative piece for HelpGuide, Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, PhD, and Robert Segal, MA, sensitively explore every aspect of losing a beloved pet. The turmoil can be even harder to bear if our loss is not taken seriously by others, or if a service animal such as a guide dog has passed away.
Grieving is a complex process that everyone experiences differently, so the authors provide thoughtful strategies for coming to terms with the storm of emotions involved.
If you're an elderly person, your pet might be your main reason for staying active, or possibly your only companion. In the aftermath of his or her death, it is crucial to avoid isolation -- fortunately, you have plenty of practical options for connecting with others.
For many children, losing a pet will be the first death in the family. You can help them transform the experience into a source of strength, instead of letting it become a damaging trauma.
Deciding to have your pet put to sleep is a heart-wrenching choice that the authors guide you through with care -- from tips on explaining euthanasia a child, to what you can expect if you do decide that this is a necessary step.
No pet is replaceable, and the authors advise against introducing a new pet to the family too soon. But when it’s time to love again, they outline a healthy path to follow: there is much to be gained by opening your heart to a new animal friend.
Above all, the message is to trust in your own grieving process and respect the passing of your companion in the way that resonates naturally with you.
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