Overcoming the Death of a Pet:
Dealing with Grief after the Loss of a Beloved Friend
If you've just gone through the pain of losing a beloved pet, consider these spiritual tips about finding hope.
Pets fill a special place in our lives, and the death of our pets can leave a real void.
If you’re grieving from the loss of a pet, we want to comfort you. We understand the pain and confusion that goes along with grief, and we’re sorry for your loss. As you work through your grief and discover how to cope with your pet’s death, keep these things in mind.
Coping with grief after the loss of a pet:
1) Realize that your pain is normal.
Many people will try and convince you that you’re grieving excessively—that grief is only for people. Realize that your grief is normal and you’re right to feel the way you do. See, you built a relationship with your pet and allowed it to become a life companion. Your pet was a source of unconditional love, affection, and enjoyment. You have lost a friend—do not minimize that.
2) Consider the usual grieving process.
Grief follows a pattern, and that pattern is true for loss of pets as well as people. Be mindful of these steps and realize that you’re moving through them. This will make your complex emotions a little easier to understand. These are usual steps that grief follows:
1) Denial: we refuse to believe our pet is gone.
2) Anger: we seek to blame something for our pet’s death.
3) Bargaining: we seek to bargain with God about the death of our pet.
4) Depression: we feel the weight of our pet’s loss.
5) Acceptance: we begin to feel comfort in spite of our pet’s loss.
3) Find someone to talk to.
Find a person that you can talk through your emotions with. Allow this person to see into your grief, to feel your pain, and to help you move toward acceptance in the wake of your pet’s death. Your friend will help you to put your pet’s death into perspective and to rejoice over the life of your pet. Then, with your friend’s help, you can move toward healing.
4) Wait on getting a new pet.
Some people will quickly move to replace their pet with another one. Sure, getting a new pet allows you to move your affection onto another pet; however, you need to allow yourself time to grieve. Coping with grief isn’t just about replacing love; it’s about accepting loss.
Finding God in Your Grief
This is a really difficult time for you-- you've lost a friend and a companion. But sometimes these seasons of grief are the seasons in which we grow the most. Do you remember that story from the Bible where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead? Lazarus wasn't just some guy that Jesus knew; the Bible says that Lazarus and Jesus were close family friends. And before Jesus raises his friend from the dead, He is really, really torn up. There's that famous verse in John 11: "Jesus wept." Jesus was grieving His dear friend in the same way that you and I grieve after loved ones' deaths.
But why wouldn't God allow Jesus to heal His friend right off the bat? Why did Jesus have to weep at all? Maybe it's because, as Jesus wept, God learned what it was like to cry. He learned what it was like to mourn the death of someone, and He learned what it feels like from this side of heaven. God is not out-of-touch, out in space, far away; God has chosen to walk among us and experience our pain, our joy, and what it is to be human. And as you mourn, know that God is mourning with you.
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