man coping with loss.

As National Pet Loss Awareness Day approaches on February 20th this year, Animal Medical Center wants to let those of you who are grieving the loss of a pet know that you are not alone. Saying goodbye to your devoted friend is never easy, no matter the circumstances. 

It’s Normal to Hurt

Sometimes our culture can make it seem shameful to mourn the loss of a pet. The reality is, though, that the grief associated with a pet passing away can be just as intense as losing any other loved one.

Common experiences can include:

  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Bouts of crying
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Exhaustion

Take things one step at a time and be sure that you are caring for yourself. Make yourself eat a little something daily and make an effort to stay hydrated. 

Some people benefit from a distraction in the form of a new hobby or project. Be cautious to avoid turning to alcohol or drugs to dull the pain.

Finally, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help, especially if you are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts

Dealing with Pet Loss 

No matter whether your goodbye was yesterday or years ago, it is important to take steps towards healing. Don’t forget to:

  • Be kind to yourself: Acknowledge that you are hurting, and know that it is okay to have feelings about your loss. Grief cannot be ranked, and no one loss is more real or more important than the next. Allow yourself some time to reflect if you find that helpful. You didn’t adjust to having your pet in your life in a day, and it is only natural that it will take some time to adjust to their absence. 
  • Reach out: Many others have gone through the journey that is pet loss, and there are a great number of resources out there to seek help from. Reach out to a family member or friend, seek help from a support group or hotline, or even talk to us. We are here to help.
  • Embrace the memories: Find a way to remember your pet. Share some photos, commission a portrait, post a memorial, or consider making a donation in their name. Continuing to talk about your forever friend is a great way to acknowledge your loss while keeping their memory alive.
  • Accept support: Don’t be afraid to take people up on their condolences and offers to help. Too many of us know and understand pet loss personally and you might be surprised how much it helps to have a friend who knows how you are feeling. 

Pet loss is real and not something that you should have to endure alone. Do not hesitate to ask us for help or reach out to us for a companion. Animals hold a very special place in our lives and when they are gone, the hole can be incredibly hard to fill.