Losing a Piece of Your Heart - what to do when your pet passes away

Jul 09, 2021 Seemeen Khan

When you sign up to feel the unconditional love of a pet, it is but natural that they leave an aching void when they go away. The home that is filled with the welcoming bark of a little dog is bound to get unbearably silent when he passes away. While we fret about muddy paws and sofas covered with pet fur, the stark clean home once they go is an unwelcome change.

The loss of your furry baby hurts- and I am still raw as it’s only been a month or so since my little one breathed his last. But as is the nature of pain- it makes one more sensitive and humane- and that’s why I decided to write this piece to help others who may be grappling with a situation like this.

Clearly there are stages to the grief, and this is how it panned out for me:

Stage 1: Shock

While I knew it would happen, seeing him breathe his last breath shook me up. My mind replayed the last few minutes repeatedly, every evening and every night. The part of the house where it happened became a spot of gloom. I couldn’t bear to look at his feeding bowl, his towel and his leash.

Stage 2: Void

The house felt empty and lifeless. Wherever I looked, I remembered my pet…what he did here, what he did there. The clock reminded me of tasks that no longer needed to be done around him.

Stage 3: Longing

I wanted to feed him his biscuit when I opened the biscuit jar, wanted to look under the bed and find him sleeping there, wanted to sit down and pet him and feel his soft fluffy hair.

Stage 4: Remembrance

Slowly, I found myself getting back to my normal chores and being able to sit down to remember him at the end of the day. The memories bought longing, but not that much hurt or pain.

For those of you, who are in a similar situation, I would like to share some ways of coping that decidedly helped me.

Talking to family: They were the only ones who felt the same pain I did. We shared our feelings of loss, our memories, our repentances, our guilt and our questions.

       Finding a grief partner: I reached out to a colleague who too had lost a pet recently. We both understood what the other was feeling and over text messages she couldn’t see my tears. The privacy of grief and the catharsis worked well for me.

 

 

My goodbye video: I made an iMovie of my pet’s recent photographs as an ode to him. It seemed like a tribute, a way to put an end to the story. It also meant that I could see him anytime I wanted to.

Pet Movies binge fest: I started seeing a lot of dog movies. Somehow, I felt good seeing other dog-human relationships. Through the smiles and tears, the sorrow began washing away from my heart.

Grief tool: At the glorious age of 48, I went and bought myself a stuffed toy. I sheepishly admit that it has brought a lot of comfort. Like a little child I hug it and sleep. Feeling its soft fur reminds me of my pet, at a time when I’m not ready for a new pet in my life.

Cement the memory: We got a friend’s daughter to make a portrait of our dog so that we could give him a permanency in our home and hearts.

 

 

Channel the love: reached out to animal welfare NGOs so that my love for animals would help animals in distress. Promised to feed the strays in my colony and find a way to bring the unconditional love of animals back in my life this way.

With time, the pain does lessen for sure. I can see today that the time that I got with my pet was such a blessing. I was able to share my life with a being that brought so much happiness to my life and home. No matter how sad I felt in the end, it seemed worth every minute that I got with him.

 And so should you.

 

 

 

Author: Seemeen Khan
Consumer behaviour specialist who has worked for top research firms like Kantar IMRB, AC Nielsen who started her career 25 years back. Has just started an online training initiative. An animal enthusiast who has shared her life with many animals like dogs, cats, hens, rabbits, birds and goats. Active blogger who also engages in theatre, music and the creative arts.

 

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