Loss of a Dog - Grief & Recovery
Posted by Bridget Reed on
Losing a family member is heartbreaking, including a pet. For pet owners, dogs are best friends, and we understand how painful it can be to see your furry loved ones cross that rainbow bridge. Although it can seem impossible to picture a life without our beloved pets, their memory will stay with us forever.
As we begin our healing journeys, it’s important to find ways to celebrate the joy our pets brought to our lives and honor their memories. While we are going to discuss grief today, we are also exploring ways to cope by remembering their unique legacies.
Today, PAWZ will provide tools to help you through the grieving process and ideas for memorials you can make to honor the furry members of the family.
How Can I Cope After the Loss of a Pet?
Before you can begin to celebrate your pawmazing pet’s life, you’ll need to learn to cope with this incredible loss. The stages of grief after the death of a pet won’t always be easy or linear, but moving towards acceptance is both necessary and possible. We want to go over steps and reminders to help you stay on the right path.
Getting Through the First Week
The first few days after a pet dies are always a difficult time. It’s this time when you’re learning that you need to alter your daily routine to eliminate the needs and activities that were all about providing unconditional love for your pet.
Let yourself miss your pup at first. If you don’t feel the loss fully, you can’t overcome it. Remember to allow yourself time to feel the grief of the loss of your pet and connect with other dog owners in celebrating their life.
After the First Week
Maintaining parts of your regular routine — such as taking a morning walk around your neighborhood — may help you feel normal during this challenging time.
Start to slowly replace some of those activities that are now gone. Go for a walk just for you. Wake up at your pup’s normal feeding time. Don’t break good habits or start bad ones. Your pup would have wanted you to continue to live and love your life. Enjoying some of those activities you enjoyed together is a great way to remember them and move forward.
Find Friends Who Understand
Leaning on your support system during this challenging time will help you remember all of the joy you have yet to experience. What’s more, seeking out friends that have been through a similar situation can help you discover coping mechanisms that can only be learned through experience.
Finding a support group of sorts will give you a sense of community during a transitional period like this. They’ll be able to talk you through those hard moments and be there for the funny stories when you’re seeing the light again. It’s great to make new friends as well as be a support for someone else as much as they’re supporting you.
How Can I Honor a Pup Who Has Passed Away?
As you start to heal, you’ll want to find ways to keep your pet’s memory alive. Of course, you’ll always remember them — but you may want to add keepsakes around the house that will give you something to smile at from time to time. Let’s talk about some ways to honor your pet.
Create a Memorial
Whether in your backyard or your home, a memorial spot is a wonderful way to handle the loss of a beloved pet. It will give you somewhere to visit when you just want to talk to your pup or are missing them extra. This spot will also be a beautiful accent to your home or landscape. Try to choose something that will blend in nicely but will always stand out to you.
Find a memorial that will remind you of your dog’s life and unique personality— perhaps they loved playing with the birds, providing a wonderful sentiment behind a memorial birdbath. Or maybe your furry friend loved ruining your flower garden, so you can plant some blooms in their honor.
No matter what you choose, pick something that will make you smile whenever you see it.
Create an Album
Scrapbooking is wonderful for the brain. Get those creative juices flowing, and create a full photo album dedicated just to your furbaby. Not only will this make a beautiful memorial, but it will also be a wonderful way to continue your healing process. Scrapbooking will give you the time and thoughtful energy to remember all of your happy memories with your pup.
If thinking of your precious BFF has been difficult for you, this may be an especially cathartic moment. Plus, whenever anyone comes over, you can show them the fun and cute album you created, giving you an opportunity to share your pup’s unique story.
Donate to a Shelter
Donating to a no-kill shelter close to home can be a wonderful way to honor your pet. Even if you’re (understandably) not ready to adopt a new pup of your own, giving back to dogs still waiting for their furever homes can help you take care of many remarkable pets.
Helping shelters keep their pups fed and happy will ensure that every family out there will find their furry soul mate. A donation that is given in remembrance of your pup will be a tangible way to express how much love and joy your dog brought to your life. We suggest checking out the donate to a dog page on our site. These are gifts that can be purchased to give shelter pups gifts that they need to feel loved, comfortable, and supported.
These pups and their future families will be so grateful for your impactful efforts. Especially if your doggo had a favorite toy or loved their dog bed more than anything in the world (other than you, of course), giving shelter pups their new favorite item can help share your beloved dog’s legacy in a tangible way.
Create a Shadowbox
A shadowbox is a frame that can hold pictures of your pet as well as mementos like a scrapbook or paw prints on a piece of wet concrete.
You’ll be able to keep their leash or collar and their favorite toy in a perfect photographic memorial to your baby forever. It is really creative, so you’ll be able to display it front and center in your home. Plus, it will make you smile with pride and love every time you see it.
How Can I Heal After My Dog Passes Away?
Coping and healing are two very different processes. While coping helps you in the moment, healing provides long-term comfort as you adjust to life without your beloved dog. Although you will never forget the love you hold for your pup, healing is an important step towards finding closure from your loss.
Remember, this won’t mean you never feel sad when you think about your pup or that you’ll never miss them during your daily life. Grief is not linear, but we do what we can to move forward.
Acceptance Without Guilt
Before you can truly move forward, you have to let go of any guilt you may be carrying. Regardless of why your beloved dog passed on, you may feel like you could have done something differently. These thoughts can hold you back from living your life, and your pet wouldn’t have wanted you to carry this burden.
Everyone knows we do whatever it takes for our pets. Understand that no one — especially your lost pet — blames you for their passing. Once you’re able to accept that your pet has died without guilt, you can begin to look into the next phase of your life and receive condolences from friends and family.
It’s going to be a beautiful season of healing and growth, and it might even be time to add a new pet to your family.
Hold a Memorial Service
It doesn’t have to be a huge affair, but holding a memorial service can help you heal. When you’re healing from the loss of a pet, celebrating their life can help you move forward. We recommend waiting to hold this service until you’re at a stage in your healing journey where you can truly celebrate the life your pet lived.
Hold a service like this in your home or your pup’s favorite park. This way, you can enjoy the memories that arise as you share stories about your pet. It will be a beautiful day for everyone involved, and your pet will be so thankful for the outpouring of love for them.
When you’re ready, volunteer at a local animal shelter. Being around new dogs all day might be hard in the beginning, but as you allow your heart to heal, you’ll want those tail wags hitting your leg again.
Donating time to your local shelter will help out those good dogs and give you a new activity to look forward to every week. We are confident your pup would be happy that you’re getting slobbery kisses again.
Once a Dog Mom, Always a Dog Mom
Just because your pet has crossed the rainbow bridge doesn’t make you any less of who you are: You are still a dog mom and can relish that title proudly. One day, you’ll be ready to adopt a dog again and take on all the joy that follows. Until then, check out our cute tees that will help you remember that you’re loved by a pet, no matter where they are.
Our Stay PAWZitive Black Lightweight Long Sleeve has a great message that can help you remember how to heal. Plus, we donate a portion of all purchases on our site to no-kill shelters nationwide. This way, you can donate to a shelter, add a cute shirt to your collection, and always remember to stay pawsitive!
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Grief is a difficult process, and healing takes time. By leaning on your community and celebrating the pawsome life your pup lived, you can slowly continue on your journey towards recovery. No matter what, you are always a puppy parent, and your love for your pet will live on forever.