The Five Stages of Grief after a Dog Passes
After your dog dies, you find yourself in misery. You may even think about how you’ve never felt this bad in your entire life. What may surprise you is that you may not have felt this strongly for even a human who has passed away.
Losing a pet is traumatic. You should feel the way you do. Allow yourself to feel this pain because it’s the best way for you to process what has happened and end up in a place where you are healthy and appreciative of the time you were able to spend with your favorite friend.
One way for you to deal with the passing of your dog is by understanding the five stages of grief. The five stages of grief were identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who was an expert on death and dying. Over the years, many people have used these stages to help them understand their feelings and thoughts as they mourn the death of someone close to them.
Denial – Meaning for Life Is Gone
This is the first stage of grief. Denial means that you know it happened, but you can’t accept it. You may even try to avoid the situation just so you don’t have to believe it’s real. When you do try to face the reality, you may start to feel lost, overwhelmed, or hopeless. You may feel as though there is no meaning to life anymore. This can cause you to go back to avoiding it, as if it never happened.
This stage is marked as the survival stage. You are just trying to do what you need to do to get through the devastation.
Anger – It’s Starting to Seep In
As the death starts to become more of a reality, you may become angry. Anger can be towards yourself, someone involved in the death of your pet, or just a general feeling of anger. You may snap easily at people because you are so angry. You’re mad because your pet has died. It’s not fair.
Anger is a crucial part of the healing process. You need it so you can start to connect to the death. Up until this point, you may have not really dealt with it, and now you are angry about it.
Bargaining – Wanting the Past Back
Once the anger subsides (and it will), you may find yourself wishing for your pet back. You may even say that you would do anything to hold, hug, or pet him or her again. You may even pray to ask for some miracle that would bring your best friend by your side again.
This is the point of the process where you are feeling how special your pet was to you. You are coming to terms that he or she is gone and you’re starting to realize it’s going to be forever.
Depression – The Past Can’t Come Back
After bargaining, it can be quite depressing to know that your pet is not returning to you. This acceptance can send some people into a deep sadness that isn’t easily helped. During this stage, it’s important to keep yourself well taken care of because you may not want to do that when you feel as though there’s no point to continuing on with life.
If you ever find yourself contemplating death or harming someone, you should call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or call your doctor immediately. The ER can also help you. No matter how you choose to reach out, know that it is 100% confidential.
Acceptance – The Calm After the Storm
Acceptance is the stage of grief in which you start to live again. You realize that your pet has died, that you’ve mourned his or her death, and you’re ready to move on with life. It will never be OK that your best friend has left your side, but you will be able to live with it. You will feel a sense of calm you haven’t felt ever since you lost your pet, and that will feel good to you.
Hang in there as you grieve the loss of your pet. Take care of yourself, reach out to people for help, and know that at your time, you will feel better.