Not everyone feels the need to mourn a deceased pet with the same force. It depends on the place occupied by the animal in the home, the time spent by its side, the level of exchanges reached, the circumstances of its disappearance … The purpose of this article is to make you understand the unfolding of the process. bereavement and how to best achieve it if you have to cope with the death of your pet.
The disappearance of an animal can cause great suffering. The emotional bond has been severed, more or less brutally, and the resulting emotions can be more or less intense and more or less lasting, depending on the person and the situation. Managing the suffering linked to bereavement is a very personal process: each person in connection with the animal will have to integrate the event into their life and give it meaning in order to be able to gradually extinguish the suffering that results from their disappearance.
The period following the loss of a loved one, whether it is their pet or a human being, can be broken down into 4 phases. Not everyone goes through each of these stages. But knowing them makes it possible to put words into an experience and to walk more consciously in suffering, to finally free yourself from it.
Some people may take a long time to understand the reality of the animal’s disappearance. It is a phase qualified as “denial”. This state probably arises more when death comes suddenly, when it did not appear to be an imminent outcome. Denial is less common with the disappearance of an old or very sick animal.
The force of the news of the death is such that at first it seems impossible to manage the situation and it is, at first, easier to deny the reality of the facts rather than to start a process of acceptance. Even though it may seem obvious that the truth eventually prevails, some people may lose their footing, sink into denial, and not engage in the rest of the grieving process.
This is why it is important to get rid of your deceased pet’s toys and accessories. The disappearance is necessary more concretely because you no longer see traces linked to the life of the animal on a daily basis. It is possible to keep a necklace or a few photos as a souvenir, but these items should be stored in a place out of your sight.
Another possible phase of mourning is that of regret. Depending on the circumstances of the animal’s death, it is possible to feel guilty by being convinced of its negligence, or that the death of the animal could have been avoided if one had adopted another behavior … in these cases, the brain passes and repeats the scene identified as being at the origin of the death of the animal. It is also possible to rehash the moments leading up to the death and feel guilty about it, especially when the last moments have not been appeased. You can then feel anger after yourself, severely judging your own behavior.
To give you an example, if you scolded your animal strongly before it disappeared or if one of your movements caused a reaction in the animal which then caused its death, you harbor more regrets than you you say the course of things could have been different.
There is no other way out than to stop the agitation of the mind and force yourself to stop thinking about the same things over and over again. It is essential to integrate the impossibility of going back, to understand that guilt is not constructive and will not bring your animal back to life. In mourning, it is necessary to initiate the click which makes one move forward, by voluntarily ceasing to project oneself constantly in the past.
When one sinks into the mechanism of regret, a deep feeling of sadness can set in over time. Sadness can gradually become a punishment legitimate: it becomes the normal price to pay because we are alive. We can forbid ourselves, more or less consciously, to relive what we experienced with our old pet. By sacrificing past moments to excess, by wanting to preserve their uniqueness (while by nature, each moment spent with your animal is unique anyway), the mourning process does not come to an end and it is yours. profound character which can be modified to the point of sliding towards depression.
We stress that it is in no way abnormal to feel sadness. But it is the duration over which you feel it that is to be watched. Even if everyone is different, the feeling of great sadness over too long a period of time can be a red flag, especially when this sadness ends up limiting the ability to act on a daily basis.
The end of mourning
You have found appetite for the future, you become able to project yourself again, and why not with another animal (without this being an obligation if you do not want to “replace” your old companion).
The death of your pet has become a memory, which gradually fades away in the face of memories of the times you have lived together: it is life that triumphs over death. Your deceased pet and the times spent with him are integrated into the course of your life, without it feeling like betrayal.
The power of ritual
The organization of a ritual in connection with the death of the animal has strong powers of liberation of emotions because:
- it gives more reality to a fact that one can strive to deny,
- it allows you to build a specific object or experience, able to channel your regrets and anger. Instead of keeping them inside of you, you exteriorize them, which makes it easier to release them.
You will be able to build a custom ritual, depending on whether you are alone, as a couple, or with your family, depending on the involvement of other people, in particular children.
You must choose what you do with the animal’s body: cremation at the veterinarian, in an animal cremation center, burial in a place of which you are the owner (you must then ensure compliance with the law), taxidermy… It all depends on your aspirations and your budget.
But what matters above all is the ritual itself, whether it incorporates the animal’s remains or not. Listen to your desires, and that of the other members of the household, and give free rein to your creativity: reading a text, making a drawing, returning to the regular route of a walk, building a grave …
If you have children, it is important not to hide the truth from them by pretending, for example, that the animal has been lost. It is not necessary to go into details but you must know how to name things with delicacy.