One of the hardest parts of pet ownership is knowing that someday you will have to say goodbye. Because we live much longer than dogs and cats (and birds, and rodents, and reptiles), we will likely outlive many furry companions in our lives, and losing a pet never gets any easier. Whether the loss is sudden and unexpected or comes at the end of a full life or a long terminal illness, the end is the same: a broken heart, and worrying you’ll never again have a bond like the one you had with your special pet.
Whether you are grieving the recent loss of a pet or are looking ahead to the final days of your pet’s life, know that the pain will not last forever. Your heart will heal when the time is right, and you will be able to share a lifetime with many pets if you wish. By giving yourself time and space to heal, and approaching the decision to get another pet carefully, you can honor your pet’s memory in the best way possible: by giving another animal in need a loving home.
A common emotion felt by pet parents looking for a new animal is guilt. After all, isn’t it disloyal to a pet’s memory to rush out and get a substitute? In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The bond you have with your pet is a special one, and nothing could ever replace them in your life. But getting a new pet isn’t about replacing the old one; it’s about making room in your heart and life for a different relationship with a new companion. Love is an infinite resource; you will never run out!
While some may feel they can never have another pet, others may respond to the loss of a pet by wanting to get a new one right away. For a long time, that was the common wisdom: The way to heal is to get a new pet immediately. This is not always the best choice for every family, though.
When you rush to get another pet, you don’t give yourself time to fully grieve your loss. You may find yourself comparing the new pet to the old one, feeling resentment toward the new pet, or struggling to bond with them. You may also be using a new pet as a way to distract yourself from your pain. But in the long term, those feelings need to be confronted and dealt with; hiding from them will merely prolong your mourning.
The best time to get a new pet is when your heart has healed and you can look forward to building a new relationship with a future companion on its own terms. Here are a few tips for easing that transition:
Once you’ve determined that you are ready for a new pet, get one quite different from your previous companion. Choose a different color, sex or breed, and give them a name very different from your old pet’s name. This will make you less likely to constantly compare the animals and make it easier to get to know your new pet as a unique individual and new member of the family.
Whether you are struggling with the grief of a recent loss or looking ahead to your pet’s final days, Best Friends Pet Passings & Cremations can help. We can provide you with resources for managing your grief. We also offer pet cremation and memorial services and end-of-life planning for pet parents in the Albuquerque area. Reach out to us to learn more.
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