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Remembering your beloved pet - Part II

The bond that we form with animals is unique so it's not surprising we feel a whole range of emotions when a beloved pet dies.

The loss of an animal can have an impact on you that is as great or even greater than the loss of a family member or friend. This bond is what makes our interactions with animals rich and rewarding, but also what makes the grief process so complicated.After your animal has died or been lost, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow. Although grief is an internal and private response, there are certain stages of grief that most people experience. By understanding the process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help other family members and friends who share your sense of loss.

The hurt is so deep
If you or a family member have great difficulty in accepting your animal's death and cannot resolve feelings of grief and sorrow, you may want to discuss these feelings with a person who is trained to understand the grieving process. Your veterinarian certainly understands the relationship you have lost and may be able to suggest support groups and hot lines, grief counsellors, clergymen, social workers, physicians, or psychologists who can help.

Should I get another animal?
The death of an animal can upset you emotionally, especially when euthanasia is involved. Some people may feel they would never want another animal. For others, a new animal may help them recover from their loss more quickly. Just as grief is a personal experience, the decision of when, if ever, to bring a new animal into your life is a personal one. If a family member is having difficulty accepting the animal's death, getting a new animal before that person has resolved his or her grief may imply that the life of the deceased animal was unworthy of the grief that is still being felt. Family members should agree on the appropriate time to acquire a new animal. Although you can never replace the animal you lost, you can obtain another to share your life.

Remembering your animal
The period from birth to old age is much shorter for most domestic animals than for people. Death is part of the lifecycle. It cannot be avoided, but understanding and compassion can help you, your family, and your friends manage the grief associated with it. Try to recall and treasure the good times you spent with your animal. You may also wish to establish a memorial of some type or contribute to a charity in honour of your animal.

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