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Mind Matters | Grieving a pet’s loss

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Mind Matters | Grieving a pet’s loss

If there is a mental health issue you struggle with, email it to us at [email protected] We will get your query answered by a trained psychiatrist/psycho-social counselor in the upcoming issue

Query

I’m a 29-year-old bartender and recently my pet dog of 12 years passed away. Dealing with the death of a loved one is generally difficult. But I feel like I’m falling deep into this sorrow, so much so that I don’t see myself feeling better, ever. I don’t know what to do to deal with this loss. Should I be seeking professional help? I can’t seem to think straight. I’m writing to let my emotions out and, in the process, maybe I can find some answers.—A pet lover

Answered by Dristy Moktan, psychosocial counselor, Happy Minds

I’m really very sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a pet can be a harrowing experience. It must be even more difficult since you both were together for 12 years. But I want to tell you that how you feel is a normal reaction, given the situation. The fact that you realize how you feel is the first step towards acceptance.

What I understand when you say you are diving deep into your sorrow is that you are in the depression phase of your grief. It’s a very difficult phase and your concerns are valid. One thing I really appreciate is that you are aware of your emotional state. To some extent, it’s okay to feel this immense grief. But, on the other hand, you do need to work on getting out of it so that it will not last a long time. You can do that by finding closure. Everyone has a different way of doing that but there are a few things I would like you to try. 

When there is a death in the family, our culture always gives us one last time to say goodbye to our loved ones through a funeral. It can be the same with your pet. It does not have to be exactly like that or even a big event. You can arrange a small memorial for your pet, and say a few words in memory of your dog. It can be extremely comforting and can give you a sense of peace. 

If you aren’t up for that, then create an album, or try journaling, remembering the good times you have had with your pet. Sometimes recalling happy memories can help you heal or at least get started on that journey. Know that you gave your dog a loving home, you cherished it, and that it lived a happy life with you by its side. It can be difficult but you always knew this was inevitable, didn’t you? So try cherishing the memories you had. 

Another thing you can do is talk to someone with whom you feel the most comfortable. Share your feelings, and cry if you feel like it, but don’t compartmentalize your emotions. Shutting off your emotions will push you deeper into the grieving state. It’s even better if you know someone who has lost a pet too. That way you can feel like you are not alone. Having a support group always helps as you will be going through the grieving process along with others by your side. 

If you find my suggestions aren’t helpful, I would advise you to go for counseling. A trained professional will be a better option to guide you through your grieving process. 

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