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  • Coping with the loss of a pet.

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    17 posts, 9 voices, 895 views, started Dec 21, 2009

    Posted on Monday, December 21, 2009 by Kandykahne 5

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    • Emerald
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      COPING WITH LOSS
      The loss of any close friend can be devastating, and pets can be among our closest companions. A pet frequently provides unconditional love, emotional security, and loyalty. Routine activities with an animal companion often provide structure, fun, relaxation, and social contact in our daily lives. The death of a cherished pet can mean the loss of an entire lifestyle as well as a devoted companion. Lack of understanding and support from people around us can make this period even more difficult.
      BE PREPARED
      In some instances the death of a pet can be anticipated; the animal may be very old or suffering from an extended illness. Other pet owners may face a sudden loss – the result of an accident or short-term illness. Things that will need to be considered with a gravely ill or seriously injured animal include the pet's quality of life, emotional and financial cost, and when or if euthanasia should be considered. It is best to have contemplated these difficult matters beforehand.
      ACCEPT AND EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS
      It is important to understand that grief is a personal experience and there are no right or wrong ways to feel it. The most important part of healing is to acknowledge what you are feeling and somehow release it. Try writing your thoughts down in a journal. A good long cry can help, too. Don't be afraid to reach out and talk to your friends or a counselor.
      YOU'RE NOT ALONE
      Seek out support. Well-meaning friends who don't understand the bond between you and your pet may say, "He was only a dog." Others may encourage you to "get another one," as if your lifelong companion could be easily replaced. This can make expression of your pain even harder. It is important to realize that you are not alone. A support group can act as a wonderful resource for consolation and affirmation.
      DO WHAT YOU CAN TO EASE THE PAIN
      Share your thoughts and feelings with others. Talk. Write. Many people find comfort in rituals, like paying their final respects with a brief service or setting up a small memorial with photos and objects that had significance in the pet's life, such as a collar bowl, or toy. It's important to set aside time to think about the good times and remember to pay extra attention to surviving pets. They may need consolation during this difficult period too.
      SPECIAL FRIENDSHIPS, SPECIAL CONCERNS
      The death of a long-time companion can be particularly painful for those who shared a unique relationship with their pet. This includes anyone whose pet was the sole or primary companion, or who was either physically or emotionally dependent upon their pet. Children, the elderly, and handicapped pet owners often have unique bonds with companion animals and may need special attention and support when a pet dies.

      Recognizing the tasks of grief can give you landmarks on the path to resolution, and help you recognize that your feelings are normal. The term “task” is used rather than “stage” to avoid giving the impression that grief is something marked by well-defined milestones. The mourner should not feel that he or she must follow some pre-set list, each lasting a determined period of time.

      Remember that the grieving process for each individual is as unique as each lost relationship. There is no set pattern or time period for recovery, but there are some general patterns.

      Denial.  Most people will experience a period of denial, refusing to believe the pet is dying or has died. Denial is usually strongest when there is little time for acceptance, such as with an accident or short-term illness.

      Bargaining.  For pets facing imminent death, many people will try to make a deal with God, themselves, or even the pet, in a desperate attempt to deter fate.

      Anger.  In frustration, anger may be directed at anyone involved with the pet, including friends, family, veterinarians, and even the pet owner himself.  

      Guilt. Guilt is probably the most common emotion resulting from the death of a companion animal. As the pet's primary caretaker, all decisions regarding care are the owner's responsibility. When a pet dies, the owner often feels guilty about actions taken or not taken, even about things that happened before the pet became ill. The most attentive caretaker may feel he or she should have somehow done more. But we all do our best with the information, knowledge, and resources available to us. It is important to try not to second-guess the decisions you made along the way, and to remember that you tried to act in your pet's best interest.

      Depression.  Depression can indicate the start of acceptance. It is normal to withdraw and contemplate the meaning of the relationship in solitude. Deep and lasting despondency, however, requires professional help.

      Acceptance.  Now is the time to remember the good times. The daily reminders become a little less painful. You find you can now start to think about the future.

      WHEN IS IT TIME TO CONSIDER ANOTHER PET?
      A new pet is just that - a new pet. He or she can never replace the pet you lost. If you decide to get another pet, you will be entering into an entirely new and different relationship. Be sure that you are psychologically, physically, and financially ready and willing to commit the time and energy needed to care for a new companion, without resentment or unrealistic expectations.

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        • 0 votes vote up vote up

          Kandykahne 5 wrote Dec 21, 2009
        • Great advice Melissa. We have some of Trixy’s things around the house. Just because she is gone she most certainly is not forgotten. We think of her every day and how special she was.



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          Kyah wrote Dec 21, 2009
        • Great write, kandy!

          I lost my favorite cat after having him for 17 years which made him like a son to me. The worst part was he died about 6 weeks after my grandfather died after a long illness. My attentions were on my grandfather so I didn’t notice that Smokey was not feeling well. When I finally took him to the vet, it was too late. He had pancreatic cancer that had spread to other organs. The vet said he was in a lot of pain and loved me too much to tell me (she knew how vocal he was). He actually did tell me, I was just too distracted with my grandfather, who was dying of cancer and every week became worse and worse.

          Took me over two years to get over that double loss and to this day, when I find a toy or photo of my “big gray monsta kitty” (as I called him because he was 24 pounds) it knocks me for a loop. I have played foster mommy to a couple of cats since then but because he took so much of my heart with him when he took his final journey, I haven’t be able to bring myself to get another cat. For 10 years my excuse was I didn’t have the room for a cat, now that I have the room, I am dragging my feet.



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          Max0125 wrote Dec 22, 2009
        • Great advice!

          I am sending out condolences to all of you who have experienced loss of a pet. I truely believe that they are send by God.

          For all of you dog lovers out there who love to read dog related books, I highly recommend “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein.The story narrated by the family dog named Enzo. Also, don’t worry about the time to go to heaven scene, it is beautifully writen. Also, the ending is wonderful, not like Marley and Me. Although, I did love M&M, but I bawled my eyes out.  

          I wish everyone a very blessed Holiday season!



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          Kandykahne 5 wrote Dec 22, 2009
        • I’m so sorry Kiah. I know how you feel. We lost Trixy almost 6 weeks ago. You’ll always miss them. You will know when the time is right like Melissa said. What a wonderful thing to do though by fostering kitties!happy
          Thank you for the condolences Max0125.



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          Kandykahne 5 wrote Jan 2, 2010
        • Hi Melissa, doing okay. Some days better than others. Not a day has gone by I don’t think of Trixy...7 weeks ago today we lost her. The holiday’s were rough...glad they are over. I don’t think you really ever get over loosing a pet...a member of the family. I think when another pet gets sick it does remind you of the one(s) you lost. Remember the good life we gave them and how lucky we were to have them in our life.happy



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          Kandykahne 5 wrote Jan 3, 2010
        • The past few Christmases I always wondered if it would be Trixy’s last as we could see she was getting older and having more issues along the way. She always pulled through! I remember telling her just before she got sick looks like you’ll make another Christmas. Amazing how quick that changed. We’ll always miss them we just have to get used to living without them and that will take some time.



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          Owlmaria wrote Jan 3, 2010
        • For our cat babies

          and for our dog babies

          I know how you feel as I have lost both my companion of 13 years and adopted 2 rescue dogs (at different times) and then had to have my cat of also 13 years put to sleep due to bad health.
          They weren’t just pets, they were my family and companions when no who else was here. I still miss them, our new babies are 3, 2 and 1 but Margie and Mimi are never forgotten, I had a very hard time each time I lost one.
          Good post. Thanks. Maria



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          Kandykahne 5 wrote Jan 3, 2010
        • It is a good thing Melissa. We rescued both Fred and Bella. The boys seem to hate her though!frown True, after Trixy died we had to keep the routine for Harry & Tonto. Now we‘re starting all over again with four kitties but we‘re optimistic it will work out eventually.
          Maria, so sorry for your losses. I totally agree they are not just pets and are members of the family and they are never forgotten.



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          Maryann Rhodey wrote Jan 3, 2010
        • Great advice and such a help to those who are grieving the loss of a pet.  

          I am so sorry for your losses.  Pets really are more than just an animal.  It makes me really angry when someone is so insensitive and says ‘it was only your (dog or cat or...)‘.  My dogs have always been a member of our family right down to the Christmas cards.  My little guy Hopkins is a part of us and so was Murphy before he passed at age 18!  Can’t ask for more than that.  

          Please know you do have friends here who understand and who are willing to listen when you have one of those days.  

          Remember all the good times and have peace that you were a true friend of theirs as well as they were to you.



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