The only downside of having an animal companion is that they leave us way too soon.
Whether it's a beloved family dog or cat, a pet's life is too short, and since they are our family, when they cross over to the rainbow bridge, we have to learn to deal with grief.
Losing your little buddy can cause guilt, depression symptoms, and other various negative emotions. Expressing your feelings is vital, but there are other things you can do to speed up the grieving process.
Animal companions are essential for beating loneliness and reveling stress. Scientists proved that kids with pets are more social and have a better understanding of others and a higher sense of self.
Additionally, fur babies make us happy; they make us laugh and show us the meaning of unconditional love.
In return, we take care of them, feed them, take them to dog parks, throw them unnecessary yet sweet birthday pawties and finally, take care of them when they are unwell.
Coping with the loss is a process, and many people around won't be able to understand it.
Some will say, "sorry for your loss," but others will be, "it's just a dog." And that's why you, with your family, have to create a support system and take care of yourself.
You won't be able to replace your fur buddy, nor should you try to. It will hurt like hell for a while, but there are some things you can do to make the pain more bearable each day.
Say your goodbyes, Marley and Me style
Once your beloved family pet is gone, it's time to mark down your memories with a meaningful ritual. It can be a family gathering where you share stories or something more personal.
Write down your feelings, and if you feel like it, share it with the people in your life.
You can share them online as well, or keep them. But make sure to express yourself and use your words, as you don't have to pretend that you're not in pain.
Seek help on social networks
Instagram is a great place to find strangers who've been there, at the same place you're now.
Look out for hashtags #rainbowbrigde, and you'll see many beautiful, smiling faces of animal companions who are no longer with us.
Make a move by commenting that you are struggling and say what's on your mind. It's a global community of people who love their little and big buddies, so you'll feel like you're among friends.
If you do start to feel more depressed, you can consult a professional. For many, it's just an animal friend.
For you, they were someone, not something, so losing a pet can be precisely like losing a member of your family.
Helping a child grieve the loss of a pet
If you're a parent to a small child, you're going to have a sensitive and delicate talk about life, death, heaven, and rainbow bridge.
Many parents say that the dog went on a farm, which seems to do the trick, but at the same time, your child might feel abandoned.
Remember that children are more resilient than we give them credit for, so there's a chance their reaction will be almost cold.
That's not because they didn't love the family dog. It's hard for them to understand the concept of life and death, and they often mimic their parents' reactions.
However, children need security and a sense of normalcy, so try to keep their routine and talk to them whenever they want to discuss the good times they shared while you're both grieving the death of your pet.
There's no other German Shepherd like yours
Pet loss and bereavement go hand in hand. You can't replace your animal because each one is different, unique, and lovable in its own charming way.
If you had a German Shepherd, getting a puppy of the same breed wouldn't bring back the dog you lost.
If you love dogs and think you need to get a new one, that's okay. Similarly, if you can't even think about getting a new buddy, that's fine as well. You can do other things that will help you in the grieving process.
Visit an animal shelter, ask around to see how you can help. Some poor dogs and cats just need more human touch before they are ready to find their forever homes.
Also, it's acceptable to visit your friends with pets or avoid going to their homes while still getting over the loss of your beloved animal.
At some point, you will have to decide what to do with old toys and stuff your puppy left behind. Will you donate them or keep them for a new fluffy member of your home?
Though it sounds like torture, it will help you move on. Bringing back structure into your life and remembering the good old days is nothing but a reminder that life goes on.
The pain of loss stays forever
Coping with the death of your little buddy will make you feel everything. You may feel guilty at one moment and angry at another.
Developing depression symptoms isn't uncommon while you're grieving. But, eventually, we all get through it.
You don't get over the pet's death; you learn to live with it. And your self-care and support system will help you hold on to the beautiful and funny memories.
Merely imagining your animal playing over the rainbow bridge can bring a smile.
Animals provide us endless love, but your beloved pet wouldn't want you to be sad.
In fact, your dog or kitten won't be mad if you get over the loss quicker than you thought because there's no right or wrong way to say the final goodbye.
Honor the love you shared, from the first time you saw your beloved family pet's eyes to their final day.
Don't let grief overcloud the moments of pure joy and happiness, playing in the dog park, or chasing around the house.
You will ask yourself, "what if I did…" but in the end, you did your best. And your pet knew that. You're allowed to share the love with a new animal companion since love is unconditional and immeasurable.
As I am closing this article, I genuinely hope that it was helpful. But, what might benefit you a bit more is that each word is inspired by actual events and one naughty and irreplaceable white ball of fluff, who died one year ago. She was almost 18. Rest in peace, angel!