Death or Loss of a Pet
The grieving process after losing a pet is just the same as losing a beloved human – except that there are possibly people in your life who don’t understand how you can be so sad or wonder why you can’t just get another pet. Losing a pet can be devastating and traumatic and may take a toll on you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Sometimes our relationships with our pets are so special because they are truly unconditional and don’t come with the complications that our other relationships may have. Our pets don’t judge us, or care what we look like – but they are there at the end of a long day to provide comfort and companionship. Most pets have shorter life spans than people so although we may know that its likely we’ll outlive our pets – even if they live a long life- this doesn’t make the loss feel any less painful. It is not easy to cope after losing a pet, but grieving is the natural process you will go through.
Symptoms & signs of grief from the loss of your pet
- Indescribable sadness
- Inability to function
- Obsession with your deceased pet or death in general
- Thinking you still see your pet
- Feelings of anger or guilt
- Withdrawing from others
- Embarrassment about your grief (thinking it was only an animal)
- Lack of appetite
- Digestive problems
- Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- Feeling achy
- Excessive crying
When is it time to get help?
It’s normal to experience grief when you’ve experienced a loss. It’s easy to slip from sadness over the loss into depression or anxiety, or PTSD if your pet’s death was violent or traumatic, and can even be a trigger for substance problems. The symptoms of grief are problematic if you’ve been experiencing them for a prolonged time or they are severe enough to affect your daily life – eating, sleeping, working, etc. for an extended time. If this is what you’re experiencing, it’s time to get help.
Grief treatment methods
Grief from the loss of a pet can be treated in several ways. Together with your therapist, you will determine the best treatment for your individual situation. Common treatment methods for grief that are effective include:
- Grief work therapy refers to the methods used in counselling that help people to grieve loss and understand their emotions associated with the loss in a healthy way with the ultimate goal of moving forward.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is defined by EMDR Canada as an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems that utilized bilateral eye stimulation or somatic responding.
- Existential therapy is focused on providing the client with a greater understanding of themselves including self-development, and self-awareness. This therapy works on the individual’s unique set of choices and the meaning behind them, making them know they can’t blame their decisions and the repercussions entirely on past conditioning and/or genetics.
- Person centered therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Faith based therapy is using science-based therapeutic techniques that are administered by a therapist with similar spiritual beliefs or an understanding of those beliefs. This is not based on any one religion or spiritual belief.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
We can help you to cope better while you are dealing with grief. Our therapists have experience in this area. We are empathetic to what you’re experiencing and can support you as you work through the many emotions that losing a beloved pet often brings.
We have several therapists that specialize in grief and loss and can provide in-person, online, or telephone counselling. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.