How to Cope with Losing a Pet
Losing a pet is so incredibly tough, especially in these days of COVID-19. Having lost one of our precious senior Cocker Spaniels, Clyde, back in March, I can definitely relate to those feelings of extreme grief and wondering if perhaps there was something I could have done differently to prevent this from happening. Clyde, who had been rescued from a kill shelter in California, had arrived with no guarantee as to his age. Having rescued many senior dogs over the years and vowing never to do it again, as a way of avoiding having to say goodbye so soon, my husband and I continued to fall in love with those special seniors, and thus, we fell in love with Clyde, age unknown, but with such an endearing wonky smile! As he ran around our backyard with Simon, his brother from another mother, there was no indication of what was to come that horrible day back in March. Although we knew Clyde was no spring chicken, he had never really exhibited some of the classic signs of aging, although you could see it in his eyes. His muzzle had always been a bit on the grey side, so that really wasn’t any help.
When all of a sudden we woke up one morning with Simon letting us know in no uncertain terms that something was wrong, we were distraught, as we witnessed our beloved Clyde struggling to breathe and experiencing seizures. A race to the local emergency vet then ensued, followed by the sad realization that Clyde wouldn’t be coming home with us and life would be forever changed.
Thankfully the vet had allowed us to say a proper goodbye to Clyde, which looking back, was so very important in our healing process. We had lost him so suddenly - it felt as if this really wasn’t happening, and we’d get home and he’d be there. Seeing Simon looking for his partner in crime was truly heartbreaking, but being “present” for him, helped us to cope with our loss. Simon had always been such a caring dog, and he sensed that we needed him now more than ever, making sure that when either of us moved, he followed us to make sure we were alright. Now, five months down the road, he continues to do that, which is so heartwarming.
As for us, we have definitely moved through the various stages of the grieving process. Although I’m not entirely sure we went through a period of denial or anger, we definitely experienced feelings of guilt and depression, and now, several months later, we are accepting life without Clyde, and know that soon we may be ready to begin the adoption process with another dog, and chances are that dog will be a senior!
Going through this difficult process ourselves brought to mind just how many people we’d met in the UKUSCAdoggie Store who had wandered around looking sadly at our merchandise only to find out that they were experiencing extreme sadness, struggling to cope after the loss of a pet, and we knew that it was important for us to highlight the resources that exist to help pet owners come to terms with their feelings and begin the healing process.
What soon became clear was the fact that so often the person experiencing the loss of a pet might not have friends who could actually relate to what they were going through. We knew that, instead of trying to work through the process themselves, it would make sense to search out someone who did “get” it, and who could empathize. In the past, many of us were left to get over the pain ourselves, but these days, it is quite commonplace for grieving pet owners to seek out therapy groups where people are allowed to grieve publicly and comfort each other. Additionally, there is considerable information online that pet owners can access. PetLoss Partners provides exceptional support to pet parents everywhere who may be dealing with the loss, or anticipated loss, of a precious pet. This company also provides support and training for veterinary and other animal care professionals who care for our pets, and they offer a ten-week interactive Pet Bereavement Training Course for anyone who is interested in helping individuals cope and ultimately recover following the loss of a pet. After completion of the course, the virtual attendee will receive a Pet Bereavement Specialist Certification. What a worthwhile qualification to pursue. You will be acquiring a skill that will enable you to show compassion to your fellow man in their time of need, and in today’s world, that’s truly admirable.
For more information on the work of PetLoss Partners, to find out how they can help you grieve, or to learn more about pricing and enrollment for the Pet Bereavement Specialist course, go to https://petlosspartners.com/pet-bereavement-a/