How to cope with the loss of your beloved pet

The unconditional love that a furry friend brings into your life is second to none. It’s obvious then that losing a pet is devastating for pet parents. Recently, actors Sidharth Malhotra and Akshay Kumar lost their pets, Oscar and Cleo, and took to social media to remember the love and positivity the pets brought into their lives. While you may not be able to get over the loss of a pet completely, you can come to terms with it.
Grieve the way you want to, say experts
There is no handbook of grieving, but each person has their own way to deal with the loss of a loved one. On coming to terms with the loss of a pet, psychologist Anushree Gautam says, “One of the best ways is to talk to people who have had similar experiences. The feeling of having to deal with the grief alone reduces this way. There are a lot of support groups within the community and online too. Listening to or reading the experiences of other people who have been through similar, tough times can help you make peace with the loss.”

Educationist Saumya Tewary lost her pug Sisi in an accident in March. But she kept Sisi’s space in the house as it is. “There was a spot where her bed and food bowl used to be. I haven’t moved anything from there. It’s still like it used to be when she was around. She used to love going on walks at exactly 6.15 am. So, I am following that as well.”Dentist Dr Sahil Wilson found new routines for himself after losing his golden retriever Pulsar. “Earlier I used to leave for my clinic at 10 am because I would take Pulsar for walks and feed him prior to that. After he passed, I started leaving early for the office because staying till 10 would keep reminding me of him. In the evenings too, I joined a Pilates class to keep myself distracted during what used to be his evening walk time,” says Sahil.
How to move on?
Psychiatrist Dr Jaiprakash Agrawal says that sometimes grief can transform into physical consequences. He explains, “This is called grief reaction. A person may experience sleep and appetite loss, experience low mood, become pessimist, etc.” So, experts suggest that it’s important to deal with grief rather than suppressing it. After grieving, the next step is to move on. On his part, veterinarian Sudhesh Surve suggests pet owners to volunteer at animal shelters. “Volunteering at these places helps in dealing with the void that the deceased pet has left. I have also suggested a lot of pet parents to become pet-sitters, which again is helpful in moving on. Giving affection to other pets can be helpful,” he says. Animal communicator Manjiri Latey adds, “What I have understood over the years is that even if your pet is not physically with you, there’s still a soul connection that you can keep alive forever. But grieving helps you move on. If you suppress your feelings, that will affect you in the longer run.” If you feel that it is getting difficult to deal with grief long after your pet has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, it’s time to seek professional help from a grief counsellor. They can help you process the pain and walk you through your feelings.

Have you heard of The Rainbow Bridge?
The Rainbow Bridge poem is about a special place, where your furry friends go when their time on earth is over. The poem offers a promise of a shared tomorrow with your furry friend; one that will last forever. The concept of a Rainbow Bridge has origins in Norse Mythology. However, in recent times, the concept was made popular by the poem, originally credited to Paul C Dahm, a grief counselor in Oregon and later rhymed by Steve and Diane Bodofsky.

When to get a new furry member
This decision shouldn’t be rushed. Mourn your loss fully and then, when you feel emotionally stable again to connect with someone, you can go for it. It is totally a personal choice - Sudhesh Surve, a vet

Memorialise your pet
- Plant a tree in your pet’s name and watch it grow
- Preserve your pet's things, like collars, bowls or toys
- Get a pic of them framed and give it a special place
- Make a scrapbook of pictures
- Hold a funeral ceremony

Once your dog has removed all of the fabric from the ball, you can stuff the scraps right back in!

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