“Dogs come into our lives and teach us about, they depart and teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog. it merely expands the heart.”
Not everyone can fully understand the devastation of losing a dog. You will often hear people say “Hey, it’s just a dog. You can always buy another one.” or “It’s just a dog. Why are you overreacting!” They will never know the pain of losing a dog because they haven’t loved one. In this article, we will talk about your thoughts and feelings on losing your beloved dog and the different ways of how to get over the death of your fur baby.
1. Why is losing my dog crushing my heart?
You’ve always heard that losing a dog can be very hard but you have never imagined it to be this hard on you. You have to understand that there’s no such thing as overreacting when it comes to losing a dog. You have formed a special bond with your precious dog so he isn’t just a pet. He is your best friend and a part of your family. If your dog is a service, therapy, or working dog, it means you didn’t only lose a friend, a family member, or a colleague but you also lost your guide, your support, and your health partner. The longer your dog has been with you, the deeper your relationship is with him, the greater the hurt can be. And these are all normal feelings. In fact, research has shown that losing a dog can sometimes hurt more than losing a family member. This is because your dog has been with you through ups and downs. He has shown you how to love and be loved unconditionally in return.
Regardless of your dog’s circumstances of passing, be it having a terminal illness and you chose to end his suffering through euthanasia, or you weren’t able to afford his medication, or he figured in an accident, the feeling of guilt and pain can still be overwhelming. There is no timeline for the grief that you are feeling and you don’t need to forget about your dog. There are healthy ways in coping with the loss of your beloved dog. Remember that what you are feeling is part of a process called grieving so do not try to suppress those feelings.
2. The Process of Grieving
Grieving over the loss of a dog is an individual experience. You might have different feelings at different stages of grieving. At one point, you might be in denial about losing your fur baby. This is our brain’s way of letting us handle only what we can. By the time that you have accepted the reality, you’ll start feeling angry towards yourself and others. This is okay because anger is the start of the healing process.
Next is bargaining. You might feel like bargaining with reality. Your “what if’s and if only’s” start to surface. This is normal because we wanted so much to live in the past as we try to escape from the pain that we are feeling.
Since we can’t live in the past and we need to face the reality, we start feeling depressed. It’s important to remember that this is not a sign of a mental illness, but rather our brain’s response to the immense loss that we are feeling. This stage might feel like a never-ending episode of sadness and grief but when you get to terms with the reality then you’ll begin the last stage, which is acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you are already okay. It is recognizing that your precious dog will never come back and that you have to face this reality every single day of your life.
Tips on Self Care and How To Get Over The Loss of A Dog
Sadness and grief is our natural response to a death of a precious dog but there are things that you can do to cope up with those feelings. It can be difficult but your dog will appreciate it if you can also care for yourself.
Take time to grieve
Grieving is a process and should not be forced nor hurried. Some people still grieve years after losing their fur babies. Some may start feeling okay after a few weeks. So be patient with yourself and do not compare your experience with others.
Accept your guilt and stop blaming yourself
It’s normal to feel guilty about the loss of your dog. Sometimes you feel like you could have done something more to make your dog live longer. But you know that in reality, you have done everything to make your dog healthy and prolong his life. You have to look at what happened from a different perspective. It’s just that dogs have shorter lives than humans. Whatever the circumstances, blaming yourself can never bring your dog back to life.
Memorialize your dog
This is your chance to show your dog that he will never be forgotten. You can honor your dog by holding a ceremony, compiling your dog’s video or pictures, or keep your dog’s fur, ashes, or collar with you. Honoring your dog’s memory is also a way to express your love to your dog and at the same time, it offers some form of closure.
Take care of yourself
Pain and grief can take their toll on your body. You might feel aches and pains everywhere in your body due to extreme sadness. It’s important to hydrate yourself, eat properly, have adequate sleep and rest. A well-nourished body will have more mental and physical energy to deal with the current situation.
Your normal routine might have been disrupted but you can go back to exercising. You may walk where you and your dog used to. Yes, you may feel sad and it’s okay to feel this way. But you can also choose to cherish the happy memories that you had with your dog while exercising.
Don’t rush to replace your dog
Your home might feel quiet and empty without your dog but you have to give yourself time to heal. Getting another dog while you are emotionally down will only mask your feelings. And you might eventually reject your new pet for replacing your precious dog.
If the time comes that you are ready to get a new dog, it’s better to get one that’s completely different from your dog that passed away. Remember that each dog is unique and irreplaceable.
Seek professional help if you need to
If the feeling of losing your dog is somewhat persistent and greatly interrupting your ability to function, then don’t be afraid to seek professional help. The death of a precious dog can be too stressful and traumatic. And it’s good to know that human beings have different coping mechanisms and talking to professional people about what you feel can greatly unload the burdensome feeling of losing a dog.
3. Final Thoughts
Facing the reality of losing a dog can have a great impact on your mental and physical health. Grieving isn’t a one-day event and its devastation can vary from one person to another. It’s okay to not be able to get over the loss of your dog right away. What’s important is you accept the fact that death is inevitable and that there are people out there who will support you and understand your feelings.
Undergoing the process of grieving is a way for you to heal. When you have totally gotten over the loss of your dog, the memory of your dog’s last days will simply fade away. What will remain in your heart is the love that no one can take away.