This pain feels like it will never go away.
If you are reading this, then chances are you have lost a precious companion, part of your family even. I am so very deeply sorry for your loss. As a psychotherapist of 38 years (The love of my life, my Dachshund Cocoa, worked in my psychotherapy practice with me for 15 of those years) I can tell you with confidence it won’t always feel this sad, this lonely or this devastating. But telling you that doesn’t lessen the pain you are in now. Your pet was a constant source of joy, love, companionship and of course, unconditional love. So of course you feel devastated. And no one should ever give you the message that these feeling are silly because your loved one was “just a pet”.
1. Grief: Grief is experienced by different people in different ways and it’s compounded not only by sorrow and loss but my other feelings that may accompany your experience. If you had to put Your pet down you may feel overwhelming grief almost as if you killed them. I know you made the best decision you could and the truth is, of course, that you were willing to suffer so they didn’t have to.
2. Anger: You may have anger at the disease that killed them, the accident that happened, the veterinarian that couldn’t save them. This anger makes sense and is part of the pain of saying goodbye.
3. Disbelief: Just acknowledging that your pet is going is so very gut wrenchingly painful. It can feel impossible to believe. The empty space your love one once occupied is incomprehensible, I know.
4. Powerless that can lead to depression: The deep soulful connection you had with your loved one is truly irreplaceable and it can still heal and you can once again feel joy, even joy for another pet companion.
When my beloved Cocoa died, I said I would never get another dog because I never wanted to feel that pain again. I have had 4 dogs since in the 9 years since she passed. What allowed me to have more dogs was that I realized even if I knew when I got her that our 15 years together would never be enough and I would grieve so very deeply when she was gone, I still would not have wanted to miss out on her love in my life.
I promise this will not feel this way forever. I promise.
I deeply hope that this information has been helpful to you, as again, I do know how devastating this loss can be. If you want more healing, more support, please call me. I understand exactly how you feel. I do. Your grief is genuine and deserving of compassion and healing. You can reach me 407-657-8555×1
Much Warmth and Healing,
Marcie S. Cramer, LMHC
Center For the Healing Arts
Center For the Healing Arts is a diverse psychotherapy practice located in Winter Park, Florida, specialize in a variety of therapy services to help provide relief from grief and stress, including from pet loss, in a supportive, nurturing and healing environment. Center For the Healing Arts is directed by Marcie Cramer, M.A., L.M.H.C. and has been serving clients in Winter Park, Orlando, and throughout the Central Florida area for over 38 years.
Some healing strategies:
1. Rituals are in our lives for a reason. A funeral or memorial service tells our brain our loss is real.. You can’t do it wrong if it is done in a way that makes you feel you are honoring yourself and your loved one.
2. There is no time limit on grief. So even if it has been months since your loss, talk about your loving companion as much as you like. Grief takes its own time and the process needs to be honored as it unfolds.
3. Online there are lots of communities on Loss of animal companions. Most are called “pet loss” and we know that our loved one was so much more than a pet, but ignore the name and go for the connections.
4. Create a legacy. This can be anything that memorializes your companion permanently. A photo album, planting a tree, a time capsule…anything that says, “here is the place I hold the tangible memories of my adored one.”
5. Nurture you well. This may mean crying. A lot. For a While. Again, this can be a way of honoring your loved one. You might not know this but there are healing hormones in emotional tears that are not present in cleansing tears. So crying is actually healing.
6. I do believe if someone has not experienced this loss, they cannot really know the depth of this loss. So, lastly if anyone has the bad manners or just plain ignorance to say to you something like “C’mon, it was just a dog” take a breath, then take another one and say “I understand you have not experienced this bond and cannot understand my deep grief, but please don’t minimize my pain, this loss hurts more than I can possibly express to you.” Next, remind yourself that if these people do not understand they have missed out on a wonderful loving experience of having an animal companion. This is THEIR loss.