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Mourning the loss of a loved pet can be a challenging time for the entire family. We know explaining pet loss to a child can be difficult after years of experiencing a bond with your pet. Because everyone grieves differently, we strive to support our patient community during these tough times.
When a loved human passes, friends and family often send comforting thoughts, cards, flowers and support. For those who do not own pets, the loss of a pet may not be fully understood and may not be recognized with the same importance it holds to you. We encourage all of our pet owners to reach out to support groups during this time to connect with people experiencing what you are going through.
We all grieve differently- sadness, depression and guilt are often common emotions that may be experienced. For some, pets have been lifelong companions for their children; the pet may have been a loyal service or companion pet or may have been a part of the family for an extended time making the loss especially difficult. The circumstances of pet loss sometimes bear weight on our grieving as well- we may not know how our pet died or how our pet may have gone missing. It is at these times that make support groups ideal.
To help children deal with the loss of a pet, we suggest planting a commemorative tree or flowers to remember your pet. You may also want to hold a funeral or memorial service for your pet. It may be helpful to help your children find closure by going through this process. An urn or monument can symbolize your pet's memory, you may want to give your child your pet's nametag to keep on a necklace or key-ring or even create a scrapbook. A scrapbook is a positive activity that will bring the family together to remember good times you spent with your pet. This keepsake can help your child grieve in an age-appropriate way. Some owners wonder if they should get another pet. This will be different for everyone. Some owners decide to get another pet immediately following the loss of their pet while others may grieve longer. Consider volunteering at a local shelter to see if you are ready to welcome a new pet into the home.
Please remember it is normal to feel sad following the loss of a pet. Others may comment on how you are feeling, but you are going through your own grieving process at your own pace. Other pets in your household may experience grief at the loss of another pet as well. Keep their routines as normal as possible and be sure to offer extra attention and love during this time.
Our caring team at Emergency Animal Hospital of North West Austin looks forward to helping support you during your grieving time.