One of the reasons some people refuse to have a dog is the reality of losing them someday.
Losing our furry friends can be a painful experience.
Especially because of the bond we share with them.
But how does one cope with losing a dog?
Keep reading to find out:
- 13 ways to move forward after losing Fido.
- How losing dogs affects one’s outlook in life.
- Testimonies from fur parents who lost their dogs.
- And that’s just the beginning…
My dog died and I feel empty: 13 vital tips to get through
Death is an unavoidable step in the cycle of life.
This means humans and animals will all eventually die. Thus, making dying a universal experience.
However, no one prepares us for the devastating pain it’ll cause.
According to a study, the pain of losing a fur baby is comparable to the loss of a human loved one.
After all, they’re more than just a dog. Fido is a man’s best friend.
They’re loyal, kind, and affectionate towards us. Thus, their passing makes it challenging to move on.
The relationship we built while they were here with us is too precious not to cherish.
In fact, there’s no perfect formula to be okay after the death of our fur baby.
However, you can do these 13 things:
Grieving isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a meaningful way to accept reality.
In fact, grief is a natural and loving reaction to losing someone we respect and love.
When we grieve, we honor the relationship and devotion we have for our dearly departed.
Thus, it’s never wrong to go through it.
It helps to know we can never hide or run away from grief. Of course, not everyone experiences the same level of grief. We deal with it on our own terms.
Not to mention, WebMD shared grief has different stages:
You may go back and forth between or skip some stages.
Plus, keep in mind that as long as we love, we continue to grieve.
“What do you mean by that?”
Love is the cause and the therapy for grief. If we put value into our relationship with our pooch, their death is too painful to understand.
Also, grieving and mourning are not the same. Mourning is the outward expression of grief.
When we mourn Fido’s death, we don’t plan to forget them.
However, we free ourselves from the energy tied to the deceased furry companion.
Once we effectively mourn, we can reinvest these energies elsewhere and move on.
During this time of mourning. Don’t be afraid to:
- Accept help.
- Be good to yourself.
- Cry whenever you feel like crying.
- Take some time off to process everything.
Not only that, but you must never let anyone tell you how you should feel. The sorrow that you experience may cause physical and emotional changes in you.
On the other hand, grief may lead to:
- Low immunity.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Digestive problems.
- Drug and alcohol abuse.
When this happens, some people will tell you to move on immediately.
Despite this, make a choice to grieve authentically and mourn well.
#2: Embrace sadness
Losing our pooch creates a significant void.
When we decided to have a dog in our lives, it created a new set of responsibilities and schedules for us.
We ensured they got to:
- Visit the vet.
After spending a long time, we reach the point where we have to bid goodbye to them for good.
This scenario disrupts our daily schedule and later on causes a domino effect on how we go on with our day.
The more we stick to our schedule, the more we’ll feel sad and miss them once they’re gone.
After all, dogs provide us companionship and ease our anxiety.
Many fur parents can attest to the many benefits of raising a dog. Thus, adding more emotional pain in the days after a canine’s passing.
So recognize sadness and embrace it. It’s valid to be unhappy in times we remember our deceased pooch.
#3: Accept feelings of guilt
Forgive yourself. Your guilt is a sign of how much you care and value Fido.
I know it won’t be that easy to acknowledge and make peace with guilt.
However, forgiveness is necessary to move forward.
You forgave them and cuddled them after.
Not only that but have you thought of how many times your pooch also forgave you?
Think of that time when you accidentally stepped on their tail. Or that one time when they got so scared to see the vet, but you took them anyway.
Our dogs continue to forgive us, the same way we forgive them. And this isn’t because we don’t have a choice or we’re tied to responsibilities.
We forgive because we love.
So, don’t constantly dwell on the past, as it’s impossible to change it.
Have the courage to think positive thoughts. Like the best times you spent with Fido.
They say if you can’t say it…
Harvard Medical School confirmed writing while mourning is good for one’s well-being.
It boosts the immune system, improves emotional health, and increases mental soundness.
This is where all fur parents differ. Some of us like to share our feelings.
While others are okay with writing down their pain. Both are acceptable and valid ways to cope with loss.
If writing makes you comfortable…
You may pour your heart out and start by:
- Sorting conflicting emotions.
- Listing all feelings you have for them.
- Expressing your apology to bring closure.
- Understanding the good side of the situation.
- Writing down all the great things about your pooch.
There are many forms or mediums you can maximize if you decide to write your grief.
It can be in the form of a:
As you may notice, you’re not limited to one outlet if you’re grieving. This proves we have special ways to express our love and pain for losing our furiends.
Tip: Don’t think. Just feel. You have the option to share what you write with people you trust. But keep in mind you’re writing this for Fido and not to impress anyone.
Write whatever you want. Free yourself from thoughts of having it grammatically correct. As long as you remain true to how you feel, you’re on the right track.
#5: Don’t rush to replace them
Getting a new dog will not make you feel better right away.
Yes, the idea of welcoming another pooch into your life is tempting after the death of a beloved fur baby.
However, you have to keep in mind every dog is different. Thus, having another one could mean new sets of responsibilities.
Are you ready for that?
You have to work through your grief and heal first before obtaining another dog.
If you get another one out of pressure or whim, both of you will suffer.
Sometimes, people tend to get the exact breed of their departed dog to fill the space they left.
However, Dr. Frank J. Sileo expressed otherwise.
As a psychologist who worked with grieving fur parents…
He suggests we should avoid getting a new fur baby that looks like our former dog or the same breed. This is to avoid comparison and bitterness.
If you have a new dog, they aren’t a substitute for the ones you lost.
Thus, don’t think the same training and socialization will work the same way for your new furry companion. They are different from each other.
So, if you haven’t moved on and healed, take your time. Decide when your heart and mind are no longer clouded with sadness or longing.
#6: Honor Fido
Since dogs are sociable creatures…
It’s hard to think they don’t have furiends. Thus, one of the best things you can do to honor your deceased dog is to hold a ceremony.
According to Stanley Coren, well-socialized dogs could create good-natured relationships with other dogs. This is one of the effects of human domestication.
Our relationship with our pooch influenced them to show friendliness to everyone.
Vets shared that having dog best friends reduces canine stress and reduces anxiety.
Not to mention, certified animal behaviorist Dr. Wailani Sung confirmed something interesting.
She said it’s possible for Fido to form deep companionship with cats, rabbits, or guinea pigs.
Having a simple ceremony to remember our dog may bring good stories from other fur parents.
Also, it’ll help if you get those special people involved in planning this ceremony. This is about celebrating a life well lived by our dogs. Make it as joyous and meaningful as you can.
#7: Talk to your dog’s vet
Despite vets’ efforts to help our pooch survive diseases or illnesses…
When it’s their time to go…
They can’t stop nature from taking its course.
This is one of the many situations where we can relate with each other – as fur parents and vets.
For us, it’s an unavoidable circumstance, and as vets, it’s one of their occupational hazards.
Death is an uncomfortable topic to touch during vet visits. Especially if our dogs are in critical condition.
Regardless of the situation, vets provide us with emotional support during tough times.
In fact, DVM reveals that vets can help through empathic communication.
Having a community of experts help you cope with the loss of a dog impacts your healing journey.
An example is Dr. Andrew Ordon’s story. He’s a plastic surgeon who’s one of the main hosts of the Emmy award-winning daytime talk show, The Doctors.
When he lost his beloved bulldog Lulu, his colleagues were there for him. They acknowledged his pain and admired him for being open to talking about it.
It wasn’t an easy journey. However, because Dr. Ordon’s colleagues were present… He felt heard and understood.
Plus, Dr. Travis Stork shared powerful advice not only to fur parents but to everyone.
He said not to minimize the impact of losing a canine in the family because it’s a very personal thing.
Furthermore, vet Courtney Campbell emphasized the importance of being honest with how we deal with losing our dog.
Especially if it’s a family fur baby and there are children involved.
We don’t have to make up stories to spare them from hurt. We should tell them that our pooch had crossed the rainbow bridge.
Thus, they’re not coming home.
Dr. Stork had his personal story of grief too, when he lost his rescue dog of 17 years, Nala.
You may watch this emotional episode here:
#8: Practice a new routine
I have mentioned earlier that a canine’s death disrupts some routines in our lives.
Being a dog parent is part of one’s self-identity.
Your neighbors might describe you as the loving fur parent who walks their dog every morning.
Or the person whose dog always wiggled their tail at the sight of children.
It’s hard adjusting from a fixed daily routine. However, having new practices can help you cope.
#9: Volunteer at dog shelters
In moving forward, missing our dog’s presence is a difficult burden.
If there’s 1 thing that grief teaches people…
It’s realizing how deeply we can love our deceased dogs, even if they’re no longer here.
So, why not spread that love to rescue shelters?
However, you don’t have to force yourself if seeing another pooch hurts you.
Sometimes it’ll still be difficult to be around other dogs.
Especially if you’re internally not ready to interact yet.
#10: Engage in activities
Though missing them every day is something we can’t get rid of right away…
Life must go on. So, we have to find new meaning in life after Fido.
Try new activities like:
- Enrolling in martial arts.
- Going out for coffee with a friend.
Some fur parents haven’t experienced much alone time after being accompanied by their pooch for a long time.
Now could be the best time to get into new hobbies.
Adding a little shift to the schedule you’re used to when they were still around is a good help, according to researchers.
#11: Join or set up fundraising campaigns for dogs
Some fur parents channel their longing for their lost woofer through charitable events.
One of which is setting up a fundraising campaign. This helps financially challenged dog parents.
This small gesture of sharing and opening your heart to others can support sick dogs.
Though this event may not bring your pooch back…
There’s a part of them that lives to the lives of dogs you’ve helped in this charity event.
“How can I do this?”
You may start by partnering with non-profit organizations.
Pick those whose causes are close to your heart.
These institutions can be those whose mission fights for various causes:
- ASPCA (animal abuse).
- Underdog Rescue (rescue).
- Soi Dog Foundation (vaccination).
- Kennel to Couch (breed advocacy).
- Best Friends Animal Society (adoption).
- The National Canine Cancer Foundation (cancer cure).
These websites accept online donations, so it’s convenient for you.
Some online charitable groups allow you to inform the recipient about your donation.
Only if you’re comfortable, you can even leave a note saying, “In loving memory of (the name of your deceased canine.)”
#12: Surround yourself with a solid support system
In these trying times, what we hope to find is a loving and understanding heart to support us.
Not to mention, sometimes our family and friends are clueless about our painful situation…
Thus, they don’t know how to comfort us.
Heidi McBain, a licensed counselor, suggested seeking support from other grieving fur parents.
Or those who went through the same circumstances.
Here are some online support groups you can check:
- Lap of Love.
- Argus Institute.
- Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Grief Center.
- IAADP Assistance Dog Loss Committee.
- The Ohio State University Honoring the Bond Program.
Connecting with these online groups or seeing professionals help you process things.
What’s more, researchers remind us to take grief over the death of furry companions as a serious matter.
They confirmed that grief has a negative impact on fur parents.
For example, a woman experienced a condition called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (stress cardiomyopathy).
This illness is referred to as “broken heart syndrome.”
Her doctors performed a series of emergency tests and treated her with medications.
This scenario reminds us not to take dog loss lightly, as it affects one’s well-being.
Some fur parents also shared how losing their woofer changed them.
They said that seeing Fido lifeless:
- Caused them depression and anxiety.
- Made them guilty for choosing to put them down.
- Gave them the feeling as if their heart got stabbed numerous times.
#13: Slowly get rid of their things
There’s nothing wrong with giving away your dog’s belonging.
If this helps you move forward, then do it.
You can sell them if you want, or add them to your donation drive.
Another option can be splitting these between your family or friends with dogs.
Choose the option you’re comfortable with.
As long as these items are still in good condition, you can give them away.