Pets provide unconditional love and a level of emotional support missing from many lives. The loyal, faithful companionship given by a pet enriches the life and creates a special bond between the pet and its caregiver. When the end is near for the pet, difficult decisions of life or death often need to be made. How do you say goodbye to a pet who has become so much a part of your life?
How Do You Say Goodbye to a Pet?
Knowing the time is right provides confidence and closure in saying goodbye. Surround yourself with support at this difficult time. If you have questions about how to proceed or if the time is right for a decision to be made, speak with your veterinarian. They not only are trained in ordinances and procedures, but many are comfortable providing grief support. Although the time will be emotional, reflect on your pet by absorbing the shock and gradually reflecting on the value of your relationship.
Create a Memory for Both of You
The sudden loss of a pet because of an accident or injury robs many of an opportunity for a final goodbye. When preparing to say goodbye, remember that you are creating a moment that both of you will cherish. You will be able to carry the memory with you into the future.
Dedicate a Special Time
A busy lifestyle often makes spending time with family, friends, and pets a difficult task. To honor the relationship that exists between you and your pet, dedicate a day's time to create an experience to remember. Spend time doing the things the two of you enjoy together the most, from spending time outdoors by the lake, visiting the pet supply store, or snuggling beneath the blanket on the couch. The day will be emotional for you, but it will give you time together to enjoy without thinking about the future.
Take Pictures You Can Look Back On
You probably have lots of pictures saved of times with your pet. Dig them out of scrapbooks, shoe boxes or the corner of storage on your computer. Reflect on the ones that stir your memories and save them again in a special place. Make sure that you take pictures of your special day together.
Verbalize Your Feelings
Saying goodbye is always a difficult task. To avoid the uncomfortable moments, attention is often diverted to details and other activities. Make the most of the last times together by saying things that you wish you had said before. Writing down your ideas before you speak often helps organize your thoughts. Finding the right words to say can be difficult. Here are some prompts to help guide your thoughts.
- "I cannot begin to tell you the incredible feelings I have when you meet me when I come home." Go on to tell them of the joy they have brought into your life with their affection when you come home from work, or giving you someone to be with at the end of your day.
- "If I don't tell you often enough, I want to make sure that you know how much I love you." Express how much you love your pet and how much you have experienced love from them. Give an example or two that you remember sharing with your pet.
- "I know there have been times when I wasn't the best I could have been for you. I am so sorry for those moments." If you have regrets about your caregiving for the pet, express them as well. Offer apologies and ask for their forgiveness. Your pet will listen and understand your feelings and sentiment. The expressions will be cathartic and healing for you.
- "You have taught me so much without saying a word." Continue by giving examples and honor what it has meant to have such a best friend.
Acknowledge the Spiritual Nature of the Loss of a Pet
Grieving the loss of a pet is similar to grieving any loss. Understanding that feelings of grief for a pet touch the soul is important for the healing process. Turn to verses or passages from your religious beliefs for your support. Many find comfort through prayer at this time. Understanding your religious perspective will provide encouragement through the times of pain.
Plan a Burial or Cremation
One of the last ways of saying goodbyes for humans is the experience of a funeral service. You can create a similar experience to honor your pet. The experience does not have to be elaborate or expensive. Invite a small group of friends, family, or even those at the veterinarian's office. Begin planning the event to help you in processing your grief.
Using Technology to Say Goodbye
Social media platforms have introduced many communication channels for us. Communicate to those in your social circles that this is a special time of loss for you. In addition, there are ways that can help you mourn the loss of your pet.
Create a Memorial Web Page
Setting up a memorial page to honor your pet is a simple task today. Use a means you are familiar with like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to announce to friend your loss and to honor your pet. Post photos and memories on the page and leave comments or thoughts. Invite a select group of people to share in your loss. Encourage them to leave comments or post their own photos and memories of their pets. There are also special websites dedicated to honoring the memory of your pet that you can join and use.
Make a Special Playlist
Music heals the soul and speaks volumes during times of mourning. Compile a list of music that can encourage and comfort you through streaming services. You can make a list of music that you and your pet actually use and share together, or the list can be more focused music for bereavement.
Consider Joining Support Groups
In addition to your own friends and family who will support you during times of grief, online support can be found by connecting with others who have also lost a pet and are grieving the loss like you. Even though these are virtual strangers, you can find support and encouragement by expressing words to those who have experienced similar losses. It is often easier to share your feelings in a relatively anonymous setting which allows you to be more open and honest.
Time Softens Grief
Although saying goodbye is a difficult and emotional process, it is an expression of the depth of the relationship shared between you and your pet. Time will soften the pain of loss, but creating a moment where you put your feelings into words will help you in the process of moving through grief.