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Pet Loss & Grief
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pet loss & grief

A pet is often a member of the family. In fact, surveys show some interesting facts about pet owners. 84 percent consider their animals family members, 99 percent talk to their pets, and 54 percent celebrate their pet’s birthday.

A difficult problem, however, is that society often denies you the need to grieve for your pet. When your pet dies, you will probably experience a variety of emotions: confusion, disorganization, sadness, explosive emotions or guilt. Don’t repress these feelings. Each family member probably had a unique relationship with the pet. Allow for different emotional responses within the family, and be careful to respect each person’s need to grieve in his or her own way.

Allowing and encouraging your family to have a funeral for the pet that has died can be helpful. It provides a time to acknowledge the loss, share memories of the pet and create a focus for the family to openly express emotions. Design a ritual that best meets your needs as you gather to pay tribute to a pet who was and always will be loved.

The temptation after the death of a pet may be to run out and get another one right away. Although it may sound like a good idea, you should be careful about premature replacement. You need time to grieve and to heal when your pet dies. A new pet demands your energy and attention which at some point you may be ready and willing to give. Right now, however, you should first attend to your grief.
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