When you are grieving the loss of a pet, the holidays can seem like a cruel time. You may not be ready to celebrate, feel thankful, or even get together with others. Depending on what stage of the grieving process you are in, this time of year can be hard to navigate.
The team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24-Hour Urgent Care Center understand these feelings and would like to give you some gentle suggestions on how to support your feelings during the upcoming season.
Coping with the Holidays After the Loss of a Pet
It is normal to feel a range of emotions after a pet dies. Sadness, anger, irritability, disbelief, confusion and other emotions are common. Since the holidays are emotionally-charged and often focus on memories, togetherness, and joy, it can be hard to take if you are still feeling the loss.
It’s important to practice self-care and create space for your own peace of mind and healing. In doing so, you can honor your loved one by focusing on the wonderful memories along with the joy of the season.
You can bring your pet into the season by honoring their memory. This can be done in a number of creative and poignant ways.
Here are some suggestions for honoring your pet’s memory.
- Create a memorial or gift – Sometimes having a memorial or simply way to honor your pet during the season can make the holidays less lonely. Light a seasonal candle next to their photo on a mantel, or create a special ornament to hang.
- Volunteer some time and love – Look for animal charities or rescues and offer your time. The holidays are busier than normal for nonprofits, shelters, and rescues, so they would love your help. If being around animals is too hard right now, you can always do other things, like getting a friend together to sew toys for pound puppies or fundraise for your favorite nonprofit.
- Join a pet loss support group – There are many support resources online where you can speak with others who understand. From emotional support to good information, support groups can be especially beneficial during the holidays.
- Start a new tradition – If your former holidays were filled with pet themes, it may be time for new traditions. If you used to celebrate at home, opt for travel or visiting a friend or relative. Sometimes getting out of your home can give you a renewed sense of the holiday spirit. If that’s not feasible, you can always try new tradition, like going to a parade, event, or holiday dinner rather than staying at home.
Finding Your Peace
The most important thing is to be true to yourself. Acknowledge how you’re feeling and give yourself permission to feel them. If you don’t want to go to a party, then don’t go. If you’d like company, then ask your friends or family to visit. Honor your feelings and be true to them.
We hope that you find the right way to celebrate the holidays this year, while taking care of yourself after the loss. If we can help in any way, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please phone us.