Loss, Loneliness & Purpose
For many pet-parents when they lose a pet it is not only the pet they have lost, they have also lost their only family member and their purpose. They are confronted with deafening silence, overwhelming loneliness, no one to take care of and no one to share their space with. One’s home should be a place of happy memories that they shared with their pet, instead it has become a place they want to escape; too much silence, too much stillness, too much sadness and too many triggers. It is important to acknowledge that what you are feeling are some of the many symptoms of grief, do not beat yourself up, be kind to yourself.
Below are a few suggestions that may assist you:
- Go out and spend time with people, a change of scenery is healthy and positive, but make sure that you are” going to”, not” running from”.
- Surround yourself with family and/or friends who are sensitive to your loss.
- Put things away that could be triggering you; for example, any of your pet’s food, donate it to a shelter, it will give you purpose in knowing that you are helping the animals in the shelter. If you feel that going into a shelter will trigger you, explain to the people who work there, ask them to meet you outside at the front door. They will understand, as well, they will be very grateful for the donation.
- Gather up any of your pet’s toys, put them in a basket or bag or any container and store them away in a cupboard. Those too, should you decide, may be donated to a shelter.
- Put away any food/water bowls as well as any bed your pet may have slept/rested in.
- If you are finding it difficult looking at any pictures you may have on display, put them away until you are able to look at them without feeling worn down and beaten up.
- Fill up some of your time with projects around your home, it will give your day purpose.
- Perhaps there is a pottery class, a reading or writing group you have been meaning to enroll in, this will again give you purpose and opportunity to meet with people and help to ease the loneliness.
Remember, you are not alone in your grief and sadness. Apart from understanding friends and family members, there are specialized counsellors such as myself and many support resources like pet loss forums, books and information websites available to help gently guide you through your grief journey.
One minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.