Pet Loss and the Holidays: Handling Your Grief During a Celebratory Time

November 20, 2017, by Community Pet Hospital

The holidays are always more fun with a curious, wide-eyed pet underfoot, and pet owners embrace the opportunity to create lasting memories with their best friends. But for many, the holidays bring up painful reminders that their loving and intuitive companion is no longer attempting to knock down the tree, eat the holiday ham, or pouncing at the bright lights.

Losing a pet is agonizing, but the grief associated with pet loss is possibly the worst during the most exuberant times of the year.

Especially Difficult

If this is your first holiday season without your pet or you lost your pet during this time of year, it might feel impossible to focus on smiling and having fun. Your pain might not easily translate to all the joy and happiness those around you have in their hearts. It might feel like you’re all alone, but we assure you that you’re not.

Take It for What It Is

Pet loss affects every owner differently. Your experience may involve intense sorrow, guilt, denial, or even anger. Try not to judge, minimize, or ignore your own feelings. Embrace the emotions flowing through you, as they’re critical components of the healing process.

The holidays compel us to feel happy, but when grieving, you’re anything but merry. Don’t become mad at yourself for any bah humbug thoughts; they’re normal.

Lean On Me

Reach out to those you know or understand your situation. While it’s hard to ask for help, try to allow others in. Share your favorite memories of your pet’s life with those who care for you, and you may even find comfort in laughing and crying together. This is a great way to bring your pet’s memory into focus during the holidays.

It may not be the best idea to keep overly busy, and shopping with other high-spirited folks can be seriously taxing while grieving. Remember, take your time and only do the things you know will truly make you feel better.

It’s critical to note that grieving individuals often forget to take good care of themselves. This might be explained by a sense of guilt or shame that one couldn’t continue taking care of a beloved animal. Honor your friend by treating yourself nicely and compassionately. Love yourself the way your pet loved you during their lifetime.

Coping With Pet Loss

There are ways to get through the holidays without your beloved pet, and we hope you find meaningful avenues to that end. We recommend the following methods that not only boost your ability to heal but also honor your pet’s memory in a profound way:

  • Plant an evergreen tree in your pet’s name.
  • Print photographs of your pet and hang them inside collectible ornament frames.
  • Donate food or other items to your local animal shelter (perhaps the one where you adopted your pet?).
  • Find a way to empathize with or support another animal that’s ill or injured; this may make you feel closer to your late pet.
  • Try to recall the ways in which you’re lucky or fortunate, as this can help you realize a sense of gratitude for the years your pet gave you.

Full of Love and Longing

With the holidays looming, we hope you’re able to find solace in your pet’s memory. The holidays are an especially difficult time to find meaning or connection when you’re grieving, and our caring staff is here to support you through all the various stages of pet loss. Please contact us with any additional questions or concerns.

Updates Regarding COVID-19

In light of recent guidance from state officials regarding COVID-19, we want to reassure you that Community Pet Hospital is here to serve you and your pets.

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