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Tips for Getting Through the First Days of Grief After a Pet Dies

Moving Forward When the Pain Feels Overwhelming

Someday, this grief will ease, and your memories of them will become bittersweet. But in the first days after the death of a beloved companion, the pain can feel almost unbearable. It hurts just to think about them, but you can’t stop playing back their last days. Every room in your house is filled with reminders. You don’t even have their ashes back yet.

A pet funeral ceremony will help bring you some closure in the upcoming days. But until then, here are a few things you can do to help cope with the loss during that first week.

Acknowledge Your Feelings Without Judgment

Your emotions in this time may be overwhelming. You might struggle with anger, sadness, or guilt. Or, you might feel numb and empty, like you’re moving through a haze. Grief can also cause physical symptoms like headaches, loss of appetite, or insomnia. None of these feelings and experiences are wrong. Don’t worry about how you “should” feel or try to force yourself to feel any particular way. Just accept your emotions and let yourself express them.

Your mind and body are going through an ordeal. You will adjust and heal eventually, but right now it’s as if you’ve just broken a bone. You know how important it is to rest and recover after an injury or illness. Grief from the death of a pet is the same.

If possible, take some time off work. Cancel or reschedule any non-essential commitments. Cut yourself some slack about the housework. Allow yourself to practice self-care: eat something, drink some water, try to sleep, go outside for some fresh air, and cry as much as you need to.

Tell Their Story as Often as You Need

In the days following a loss, especially a traumatic one, you may find yourself playing the event back in your mind over and over. Even if the loss was anticipated, you might feel the urge to talk about your pet a lot. This is a normal and healthy response. For many people, talking about something painful is a way to express that pain and process emotions. It’s part of how you adjust from the reality where your pet was alive to the reality where they’ve become a memory.

If you don’t have a sympathetic friend or family member to share these memories with, you can call a grief counseling hotline that specializes in pets or join a pet loss support group. You might also find some relief in journaling. Writing out the full story of what happened can help get it out of your head. You can talk or write about positive memories, too. Telling favorite stories about your furry friend can remind you of the good times and help to immortalize their memory.

Plan a Memorial

It can help to spend some time thinking about what you’d like to do with your pet’s ashes and how you’d like to memorialize them in the future. There’s no rush to decide, and you shouldn’t feel any pressure at this stage. But thinking through your options and deciding what’s meaningful to you and your pet’s memory can be a comfort.

Do you want to display their ashes? Keep them in a memorial pendant? Scatter them somewhere significant? Perhaps you want to spend some time compiling photographs into an album or slideshow, or write a story about your time together. Creative outlets for grief can provide comfort. But if you don’t have enough energy or willpower to think about it right now, the memorial can wait until the initial wave of grief has subsided. You have all the time you need to work through your feelings.

Best Friends Pet Passings and Cremations will do what we can to have your pet’s ashes returned to you as quickly as possible, and we offer multiple options for memorializing your companion. We know how hard this can be, and we’re here to help in any way we can. Call 505-345-5615 to speak with one of our caring staff.

Looking through a pet photo album