It is very understandable to be experiencing serious grief over the death of your beloved pet. Many of us take this very hard, especially those of us that have the feeling of ultimate responsibility. Nobody should belittle your loss or take away your right to a fitting bereavement but try to remember most are just trying to help you through this hard time the best they can. Some have a better ability than others. You are perfectly justified in your deep feelings of grief and loss yet even you may be surprised at the intensity of your sadness when your pet dies.
It is normal and healthy to mourn the loss of a deep bond, whether that was to a human or an animal. You have lost a beloved member of your family and this deserves a proper bereavement. The love you received from him was different than the complicated love relationships you might have with humans. Your dog likely adored you. He was always there for you, never criticized you, never held grudges, and always forgave you no matter what. There are few other living beings that give you this same simplicity.
You also receive other benefits from a pet; touching, petting, rubbing their fur. You hug them and confide your deepest thoughts to them, knowing they will never betray your secrets. The unconditional love your pet gave to you created a different and very strong emotional attachment, a comforting presence that is sure to be missed.
Here are the 7 normal stages of grief:
Shock and Denial: You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
Pain and Guilt: As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although difficult, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs or even emotionally shrug it off. You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one.
Anger: Guilt gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.
Depression: Just when everyone may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. During this time, you finally realize the true depth of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
Upward Turn: As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
Reconstruction: As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.
Acceptance: During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not mean instant happiness. Given the pain you have experienced, you may never return to the carefree you that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a healthy way forward. My dear, late father had a perfect saying here. "Did you learn anything?" :-) You will start to look forward and plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your loss with less pain if you have gone through these stages correctly. You will once again anticipate some good times to come.
What can you do to provide support?
Natural medicine such as homeopathics can be a very healthy way to ease you through your loss and grief. Here are the most popular remedy choices for normal grief. Dosing can be 4 tablets up to 4 times per day. These remedies can be used until you do not feel the need for them anymore. If no relief is felt in 4 days reevaluate and perhaps try another from the list. If you are experiencing profound grief or suicidal tendencies, I recommend seeking professional homeopathic help.
- This is usually the first remedy to try in the initial stages of grief, especially if you are in a highly weepy, emotional, and oversensitive state, perhaps even hysterical at times. Sighing is a big Ignatia keynote. Ignatia is very suitable after all kinds of grief, including the end of a relationship or bereavement.
- Always try this if Ignatia does not act or fails to hold. You will be tearful and emotional, but the grief is less open and you will prefer to cry alone in the privacy of your own room. Conversely, you may be so deeply affected that you cannot cry at all. Consolation may make things worse. Nat mur can be suitable for more long-term sadness, when you feel you should be getting over it but feel 'stuck'.
- This remedy is a indicated where the loss was perceived as a blow. Often this is a financial loss such as a job or investment crash. In this case you would feel hurt, bruised, and tender and not want to engage the hard world. The opposite could be the case when you toughen up and engage life in a blunt forceful manner in order to regain what you lost.
- This remedy can be indicated after the loss of a care giver where you feel abandoned and forsaken, left on your own, not able to fend for yourself. This can be accompanied with digestive ailments.
Herbs can also provide healthy support. Sometimes less likely to work as profoundly as Homeopathics but herbs can have their place during this difficult time.
- Insomnia is often a symptom of grief. Passionflower treats insomnia because it increases levels of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA affects brain cells by lowering activity in certain areas, which results in relaxation. Passionflower's relaxation benefits improve when combined with Valerian or lemon balm.
- Fatigue and lack of productivity are symptoms of grief that Astragalus may effectively treat. Astragalus' adaptogenic properties restore the body's balance when emotional or physical stress overburdens the body's systems. The herb's reputation as a strengthening herb began thousands of years ago in traditional Chinese medicine.
- This herb can help with mild to moderate insomnia. Valerian does contain chemicals, called valepotriates, that are thought to be muscle relaxants and sedatives. It has also been shown that Valerian can increase the levels of GABA (like Passionflower), a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with slow-wave sleep. This can reduce anxiety and stress that may keep you awake.
On a final note, remember, grief is a normal condition. Do not rush yourself through it. Do not force yourself to stay stuck in it. Do what you need to heal. Talk with like minded people. Take on a project that helps you remember good times. Make a special photo collage, book or video of your loved one.
I will leave you with one of my favorite poems. I hope reading this article will provide you with the additional support that can be so helpful in times like these.
Gina Snow, LVT
I Loved You Best -Jim Willis
So this is where we part, My Friend,
and you'll run on, around the bend,
gone from sight, but not from mind,
new pleasures there you'll surely find.
I will go on, I'll find the strength,
life measures quality, not its length.
One long embrace before you leave,
share one last look, before I grieve.
There are others, that much is true,
but they be they, and they aren't you.
And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought,
will remember well all you've taught.
Your place I'll hold, you will be missed,
the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed.
And as you journey to your final rest,
take with you this...I loved you best.