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When Your Pet Dies: 5 Ways to Cope

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It’s been a tough few weeks around here. 

Our beautiful, sweet dog Mae passed away.  Death is never easy, but when it’s an unexpected loss it’s hard to know what to do next.  When your beloved pet dies it’s difficult for everyone, kids and adults alike.

If you’re a pet owner here to find out how to cope, I’m so sorry for the loss of your furry (or not so furry) friend.  

Mae was part of our family for the past 2 1/2 years but boy it seemed like a lifetime.  

I know everyone says they had the best dog, and they’re right, but Mae was truly a delight.  Since we got her when she was already six we were well past the chewing and housetraining stages

She was a perfect fit for our family. 

She came into our lives at a difficult time.  When we were neck-deep in caring for my grandmother who had dementia, Mae lit things up.    She lived with us for 6 months before my grandmother passed and Grandma didn’t even know she lived here. LOL

Mae patiently wore costumes and had her nails painted. 

Sooo many song parodies in her honor.  “oops Mae farted again…I’m not that innocent”  “furry bottom, fleas, fleas, paws with the fur…Mer”

She was a constant companion of adventures, fortbuilding, and all things relating to food.

The unconditional love and emotional support a pet gives are absolutely one of this world’s blessings. And pet loss, truly one of the worst.

Endlessly enduring modeling sessions choreographed by our daughter who has hundreds of photos in our phones, cameras, and many gracing Instagram under @lab_of_my_life on Instagram.

When she first came she was overweight but would politely sit away from the table.  We fixed that.

No matter if you wanted to nap or play she was your girl.

She even had a language all her own.  

Remember the Smurfs and how everything was turned into a “smurf” word.  It was like that.  

When she first arrived she wiggled and was likened to a mermaid.  Funny, since at the time we didn’t know how unlab-like she was towards the water.

After that, she somehow became “Mermie”  so everything was prefaced with “Merm”.  As in midnight shemermagains, mermalicious, and mermiepotamus.

And she knew it too.  When you spoke to her or about her she would answer in grunting piggie noises back and forth like a true conversation.

Even though she was almost nine, we never expected her to go so soon.  

She was diagnosed with Lyme disease last year.  She showed no obvious symptoms and since we did flea and tick treatments year-round and also gave her the vaccine we assume she got it before we adopted her.

With everything we know now based on her last week, we think the Lyme Disease ruined her kidneys.

We thought she would turn around and I spent her last days sleeping next to her, giving her water by hand and singing to her while petting her and telling her how very special she was.

I will forever remember her by singing “I want a mermiepotamus for Christmas, only a mermiepotamus will do…”

When your pet dies

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#1 Grieve as You Need When Your Pet Dies

Allow yourself time to come to terms with the death of your pet. 

Your home will feel different.  You will forget it all happened and then remember again. 

Let yourself cry or yell.  Talk to friends and family. 

Let each person grieve in their own way.  Some kids may want to be alone, others may want to stay close to you.

Pet grieving is unique. People who don’t enjoy having pets don’t understand. Find other animal lovers to talk to about your feelings.

#2 Remember Your Pet

Decide where you would like your pet to be buried.  Whether at home, at a pet cemetery, or cremated, there is no wrong decision, it’s a very personal one.  Some crematoriums or animal care centers also offer clay paw prints.  

Look at pictures, make a video slide show, or draw a picture of your pet. 

Consider writing an obituary, poem, or story to read aloud with a personal memorial service in the yard to say goodbye.

Make a video, like we did, and post it on social media.

We chose to cremate her and have her ashes in a beautiful keepsake box.  Each of us will decide on a personal keepsake to have a part of her with us.

 

# 3 Don’t Rush to Get a New Pet

While you may want to fill the emptiness and silence take your time.  The grief process takes as long as it takes.

Again, this is extremely personal as to when is the right time. Family members may struggle with feeling they are dishonoring the pet that passed away by getting a new dog or cat right away.    

No matter how close you were to your pet, you may want one sooner than you think.  The kids all talked about getting a new dog within hours of Mae’s death.  And trust me, we couldn’t have loved or been missing anyone more. 

But we know how happy she made us and how happy we made her.  So knowing we could have this bond again is addictive. 

Things to consider when you think you’re ready.

  • Is your heart ready to accept a pet that isn’t the one you lost?
  • Is your lifestyle able to handle a different pet? 
  • Are you ready for new bad habits to break?
  • Is everyone in the house on board?

I found just looking at pets who so desperately need homes made me feel good.  Imagining each one in our home helped fill a bit of a void.  But we’re still taking it slow.  

If it’s too soon to open your home on a permanent basis, spend time volunteering at a local shelter or fostering a pet for a short while. How about becoming a pet sitter or dog walker?

#4  Take Care of Yourself to Move On.

It’s hard to accept that life goes on after death.  But as doggies know so well, life is meant to be lived.  If you work at home as I do, it’s particularly lonely all of a sudden. 

Find excuses to get outside.  If you normally walked your pet, don’t give up that daily dose of physical activity.  Find a friend or loved one who needs to get out too, or a neighbors dog who needs to walk.  

Be kind to yourself.

If you’re feeling down, reach out to friends and family, an online support group, or a therapist if you find you can’t cope.

When dealing with the loss of a pet what can you do to help you and your family grieve and remember your pet so you can move on and cherish the memories. #loss of pet #dogs #parenting

#5 Do Something in Memory of Your Pet

Plant a tree or donate to a shelter or The Humane Society. Some shelters have fundraisers that sell brick pavers in your pet’s name.   

 Paw Print Pet Memorial Stone – Features a Photo Frame and Sympathy Poem – Indoor Outdoor Dog or Cat for Garden Backyard Marker Grave Tombstone – Loss of Pet Gift – Loss of Dog GiftPaw Print Pet Memorial Stone - Features a Photo Frame and Sympathy Poem - Indoor Outdoor Dog or Cat for Garden Backyard Marker Grave Tombstone - Loss of Pet Gift - Loss of Dog Gift Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a PetGoodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet Eternally Loved No longer by my side,forever in my heart carved locket cremation Urn necklace for mom & dad (Dad)Eternally Loved No longer by my side,forever in my heart carved locket cremation Urn necklace for mom & dad (Dad) Stainless Steel Pet Paw Cylinder Pendant Cremation Urn Keychain Memorial Keepsake Ashes JewelryStainless Steel Pet Paw Cylinder Pendant Cremation Urn Keychain Memorial Keepsake Ashes Jewelry Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul: Stories About Pets as Teachers, Healers, Heroes and Friends (Chicken Soup for the Soul)Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul: Stories About Pets as Teachers, Healers, Heroes and Friends (Chicken Soup for the Soul) The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet ParadiseThe Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise

 

Finally, when your pet dies it can seem like you’ll be hurting forever. And in some ways, you will. But there’s always room for furry friends in our hearts when we’re pet lovers.

 

When dealing with the loss of a pet what can you do to help you and your family grieve and remember your pet so you can move on and cherish the memories. #loss of pet #dogs #parenting

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Holly

Thursday 7th of July 2022

I'm a first time fur momma I found the most perfect lill yorkie and fell in love with him fast, I took him every where. Everyone knows him. He was sooo cute. He was only 6 months old and he got sick last week. The vet didn't do a blood test or xray an said he had bronchitis n sent me away w antibiotics. I stayed home with him all that weekend Saturday he seemed a little better n declined. Monday I called a different vet an was taking him there. He passed kn the way in my car. My little yoga yorkie im heart broken 💔 I don't have any kids im 35 he was my baby. Like my boyfriend n is first kid. This sucks im ok but bed time n morning im so sad.

Laurie O'Rourke

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Hi Holly,

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your fur baby. What a young puppy to fall ill. May the memories of your sweet baby, though short, bring you comfort.

Melissa

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

.I lost my best friend June 10th is started as a great day I have 2 dogs one is Bailey he was my Baby and shadow of almost 12 years he is a cocker spaniel, and loved me so, the other one is 2 years old because over 2 years ago we lost my other one to cancer, so Bailey woke up playing getting his treats Going for his walk after dinner he started having seizures that was happening every 1/2 he went to hospital they tried anti seizures meds didn't work we were told he had brain tumor the meds didn't help at all we had to let him go I am so Lost with out him! had him cremated can't stop crying we loved each other so much when you saw me you saw him,I now over the years have 4 boxes on my shelf of lost dogs and 1 box of Our lost cat of 20 years this is the worst when you own fur angles I'M grateful God gave me all of the best babies but it hurts so much when they have to leave I can't wait to see them 🐕🐶♥️ Melissa

Laurie O'Rourke

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Hi Melissa, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your best friend. It's such a hard thing to go through. I hope sweet memories and the love of the fur babies still with you bring you comfort.

Marla Sample

Saturday 6th of November 2021

We lost our dog on Nov. 3,2021. She got sick and it wasn't something they could fix. One day we are told she's dying and the next she's gone. She was 12 1/2 and our constant companion. We are literally devastated. It's the hardest thing to deal with.

Laurie O'Rourke

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Oh, Marla! I am so sorry to hear about your dog. While losing people can be a terrible loss, losing pets who are constant companions and best friends that love so unconditionally makes it a horribly unique experience. I wish you comfort in this difficult time.

Bethanie

Friday 20th of November 2020

I lost my baby of 17 years almost two years ago. She was my first dog. My parents wouldn’t let us have pets when we were kids because we always lived next to an extremely busy highway, so yes she was my first dog. My husband got her for me when I was 22 years old and from day one she was mine. She was the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen. People always stopped me asking what kind of dog she was, she’s so pretty they would say. She was a chow shepherd mix that looked identical to a Sammy. She had the long thick white fur and the Sammy gentleness. I miss her so very much. I would give anything to have her back just one more day. I too, laid with her when she was sick and hand fed her water the last week of her short little life. I’m so grateful I had her for so long without any health problems until the last 2 weeks of her life, but I sure do miss my best friend.... I have a memorial to her in my bedroom with a giant painting of her on my wall and shelf beneath the painting. The shelf has her ball, her ashes a photo of her and a wooden sign that says when I needed a hand I found your paw. Of course I put some lighted led trucks on her shelf for her for Christmas, her favorite thing was always to go bye bye, so I thought the lights were perfect. I can’t wait until someday I get to see her again and rub those soft ears or hers and get one of her gentle hugs. 😪

Evy

Sunday 13th of December 2020

Bethany I’m sorry for your lost. We lost our two poodles in the last 4 month. They been with us for 14 and 13 years, I wish I can have them back to give them belly robs one more time. My house is so quiet with out them.

Laurie O'Rourke

Monday 7th of December 2020

Hi Bethanie,

I am so sorry about your beloved friend. What a beautiful way to memorialize her. Pets truly are a wonderful gift this life brings. Take care and be well.

Kamira

Sunday 3rd of May 2020

Great post and so agree . I can relate. Pet loss is one of the most devastating experiences of my life for sure. I'm just grateful my cats gave me the honor to be their mom. So sorry for the loss of your sweet dog Mae. She was adorable.

Laurie O'Rourke

Saturday 16th of May 2020

Hi Kamira, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm sure your cats were happy to have someone who loved them so much. Thanks for commenting.

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