Dog Chat Information

 Get Rid of Fleas House and Dog       Potty Training the Easy Way
 

 
 

 

 

Drop Down Menu

 

 

Articles Menu

Adult Dog House Train
Adult Dog peeing in house

Aggression in Puppies
Antifreeze Poisoning Dogs
Anxiety Dogs - Prevention
Arthritis - Information
Atopy Dogs
Bad Breath Problems
Barking Dogs. How to control
Belly Bands for male dogs
Biting - Stop Puppy Biting
Bladder Infections Dogs
Bored Dog
Canine Distemper
Car Sickness in Dogs
Cats introduce to dogs
Chewing things Stop this
Children, worms from dogs
Cold Weather -Snow  Dogs
Control of your dog
Crate Training Dogs
Dangerous foods for dogs
DHHP Vaccine Dogs

Digging - How to stop
Death of Dog - Grief
De-worming Dogs and Pup
Diarrhea in Dogs
Distemper in Dogs
Dog hair removal
Dogs, Babies and Kids
Dogs for Older People
Dog age - Human Years
Ear Mites in dogs
Euthanasia -Dog - Decisions
Farting prevention Dogs
Flea Allergy Dermatitis Dogs
Fleas get rid of House & Dog
Fleas on young Puppies
Foods Dangerous for dogs
Heat: Female Dog in Heat
Heartworm in dogs
House Training Puppy
House Training Adult Dog
Hypoallergenic Dogs
Itchy Scratchy Dog - Help
Jumping up - Stop Dog
Leptospirosis Vaccine
Life Expectancy Big dogs
Lost Dog - Tips to find
Lyme Disease Vaccine Dogs
Kennel Cough Information
Kennel Cough Vaccine

Mange in Dogs
Non Shedding Dogs
Overweight Dog Advice
Pet Pee Poop Problems
Poop Removal Carpets
Potty Problems - Help
Potty Training The Best Way
Potty pads to  outside
Potty Train Adult Dog
Puppy -Should I get one?
Puppy Deworming
Rabies Vaccine
Rabies Free Countries
Retracting Leads
Ring a bell to go outside
Ringworm in Dogs
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Sit - Down - Come - Training Techniques
Should I get a Dog?

Snail Bait Poisoning
Spaying and Neutering
Submissive Urination
Tapeworm in Dogs
Teach your Dog to Read
Thunder Shirts for anxiety
Top 100 Dog Names

Urinary Tract Infections
Urine  odor Removal Carpets
Urine odor Removal Mattress
Urine Odor Testimonials
Urine Marking Problems
Vaccinations for Dogs
When to call the vet
Worms. When to worm
 

 

Dealing with grief after the death of your dog.
By Rita Bruche

 


Grief when your dog dies

 

 

You might also like to read this article. Euthanasia of your Dog - Help with Decisions

 

Through the course of their lives most dog owners have to face the death of a beloved dog. The sad fact is that our treasured companions do not live as long as we do.

Western cultures do not allow for much expression of grief, and death is often considered a taboo subject for discussion. Many people, even our closest friends, feel uncomfortable about talking to us about our losses. Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time we most need support. This applies especially for the death of a pet, as our society often does not acknowledge loss of a companion animal to be a significant cause for grief. With this article, it is hoped that learning about factors involved in the pain of grief may help to accept that loss and grieving are a normal part of our lives, that the grief is real, valid, and appropriate and that your pain can be expressed to others. Then can begin the process of healing and building new relationships.

What are grief, bereavement and mourning?

Grief can be defined as an emotional response to a perceived loss. It does not have to be the response to death. In fact, as I will discuss later, grieving usually involves the loss of many different things. This article concentrates on grief from the death of a dog, and losses associated with that death. Bereavement refers to a state that follows a loss, which may be from death, loss of employment, or marriage. Culture usually determines what is considered appropriate reason for bereavement, and pet loss is not usually included. Mourning is the outward expression of loss, including rituals and customs.

For most people, the first loss of a loved one can be the strongest and most overwhelming experience they have had. Its very intensity can be frightening and seem uncontrollable.
 

Normal Grief

It is commonly expected that a death will lead to grief. Many people will have heard about different stages of grief suggested by Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These days it is thought that grief does not necessarily follow any set pattern, and some of these stages may not be present at all. It has since been suggested that typically, the period of bereavement includes 4 phases of shock and numbness, yearning and searching, disorganization and despair, and reorganization.

Grief usually has many components including physical and emotional distress, preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, and disruption to daily living.

Complicated grief

Grief may be complicated for many reasons, and may make it harder to resolve your feelings. This may occur if you have other unresolved losses where you were unable to express your feelings honestly, you have little social support, there was a particularly complex or ambivalent relationship with the deceased, feeling guilt, where the death was untimely. Also both deaths that are sudden and unexpected, and deaths that occur after long illnesses can lead to complicated grief. There can be many other factors also.

Anticipatory grief

Grief does not necessarily begin with the death of a dog. You may have started well before your dog actually died, and the death itself may actually bring about an initial feeling of relief. This is particularly the case with a long and difficult illness, when you have had warning that your dog is likely to die. However, it does not mean you will feel less pain when the actual death occurs.

Getting through grief and moving on

Worden, a prominent researcher in the field of grief, has identified 4 major tasks involved in moving through the process of loss.

* To accept the reality of the loss

* To experience the pain of loss

* To adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing. This definitely takes time. So many of our thoughts and actions are automatic – we assume that things remain the same. It can be a shock each morning to realize that there is no need to refill the food bowl.

* To withdraw emotional energy and reinvest it in other activities. This may involve considering getting another dog.


Why does it hurt so much? How much have you actually lost?

Certainly, not all people react to the death of a dog in the same way. Each person, each dog and each relationship is unique and has unique components. Loss does not involve simply the physical presence of the dog. The psychosocial benefits of living with a dog are well documented and include social support, companionship, an increased sense of our own worth and the emotional bond we have with our dog. These are part of what you are grieving. You will be reminded of the special things you did with your dog by their absence. The losses may not be tangible – they may be the emotions that your dog elicited from you. You may have lost the good feeling you had when your dog put his head on your lap, or when he wagged his tail at the sound of your voice. The laughter that came when he did something silly, and the assistance you received when weeding the garden. The warm feeling when you arrived home to find him waiting at the door to welcome you. So the degree of daily interaction you had with your dog will influence the number of losses, and therefore the degree of grief.

Guilt

This merits a paragraph of its own, due to the significant role it has in making a normal grief complicated. We are very good at “beating up on ourselves” when we are feeling low. There may have been aspects or decisions that we may have made differently with the benefit of hindsight, that had an impact on our beloved dogs life or death. The only useful thing that can be done is to learn from the experience for the future. We need to be kind to ourselves at this time. We are all fallible humans, and do the best we can to get through our lives. Some people can feel relief with the death of their dog after a long illness, and experience guilt because of this. Again, this is perfectly normal. Some people feel guilt if they think they are grieving more for a loved dog than for a human they have lost. There are no rules about how much we should grieve – these sorts of “shoulds” are not helpful either. For ourselves, we should not minimize how much the dog means to us.

Special features of grief with companion animals

All grieving is painful, and for those of us whose dogs are an integral part of our lives, the loss of a dog is not different that the loss of a close friend. However there are some aspects of pet loss that are not common with the loss of a human, and some of these may make your loss more difficult to deal with.

* Loss of a dog may often involve decision making about when to end the life. How comfortable you are with the decision will affect how you grieve. As mentioned above, guilt can play a role with how the decision was made, and can either be a comfort or a source of guilt depending on how you feel about your actions. This decision can be a terrible dilemma for some people. “Did I make the decision quickly enough? Did I let him suffer? Should I have let her keep going? Did I give in too quickly?” are common questions that grieving dog owners may ask themselves? Sometimes guilt may revolve around the financial aspects of veterinary care – “was I unwilling to pay large vet bills?” However euthanasia is the most loving gift for a dog that is suffering, has lost his quality of life and has no chance of improvement.

*Another aspect is the simple fact that we gain so much support from our canine friends – they can be a source of unconditional love that will help us through our difficult times – and not only do we have to deal with the loss of the dog herself, but her support is no longer there to help us.

* Not all people around us appreciate the integral role that a beloved dog may have in our lives. There may be some around who may minimize your loss, and expect you to get over your grief more quickly than you are ready to. This may also include employers who do not appreciate the degree of pain you are in. Ensure that you seek others who value their companion animals as you do, and who can allow you to express your feelings honestly. There are many who feel as you do.

* Another factor is that while the ritual of a funeral marks the death of a human loved one, losing a dog does not have such a custom. Rituals have important functions in allowing the bereaved to proceed to acceptance by acknowledging your loss in a supportive environment.

Allow yourself time and tears. Don’t overburden yourself with difficult tasks – your concentration may be decreased. It is also important to attend to yourself in the simple matters of daily living. Ensure that you continue to maintain a balanced diet. Avoid excessive alcohol or drugs. As you are in a stressed state, you are more liable to pick up colds and flu, as your immune system is weakened. Avoid making important decisions while you are in a vulnerable state.


What can I do to feel better?

There is no magic pill that can remove the pain completely. With time the feelings will become less intense. However there are activities that may help you to focus on the happy memories you shared. Some people find the following useful:

* Writing poetry or a letter for your dog to express your feelings for him or her
* Arrange photos in a special album
* A memorial page on the web (if you don’t have a web page of your own, there are specific sites that welcome photos and poetry to memorialize your dog).
* Joining a email group – there are several that provide support from people who have also lost their dogs
* Have your own ritual. Invite like-minded and supportive people to share in memories of your dog.
* Plant a rose or tree for your dog
* Sponsor an animal in the zoo in memory of your dog
* Read a self-help book. There are many available on grieving
* If your grief is overwhelming and causes major disruption to your daily life over a long time, consider seeking help. There are counsellors and psychotherapists who are sensitive to the needs of people who are grieving for their pets. However ensure that they have the same qualifications you would expect for grief counselling for humans (eg psychologist, social worker, counsellor of professional association).


The new dog in your life

The decision when, or whether to get another dog is a very personal one, and should be done in your own time when you feel comfortable. It should not happen when another well-meaning person thinks it should happen. Again, there is no “right” or “wrong”. You may feel ready soon after you lose your dog – this may be the case if your dog had a long illness and your grieving started long before the death. Ensure that you feel happy with the timing – some well-meaning people may try to give you a dog or puppy in order to replace your previous dog. Others may try to talk you out of getting a dog when you feel ready.

You know best.

Some people find themselves preoccupied with the health of the new dog, with fears of his or her death. This is quite normal as the pain is so fresh for you, it is natural that you are anxious that you may experience it again soon. Again, this will become less intense over time.

The path through grief is never easy. Each of our dogs is unique and irreplaceable. However as life and death are two sides of the same coin, so are love and grief. Make life easy for yourself until you can remember your loved dog with more smiles than tears, and you know the time is right to begin a new, unique and perfect bond with another, who will benefit from the caring person you are.

Here I have included a well-known poem that many people find helpful when thinking of their pets who have died.

More Reading:   Help with decisions regarding euthanasia of your dog

 

 

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet
goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and
play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and
comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those
who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember
them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss
someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and
looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs
carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you
cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses
rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once
more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never
absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Kubler-Ross, (1981). On death and dying. London: Tavistock

Lagoni, L., Butler, C. & Hetts, S. (1994). The human-animal bond and grief. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders & Co

McNicolas, J. & Collis, G.N. Coping with pet loss. In: I Robinson, (ed) (1995). The Waltham book of human-animal interaction. Oxford: Pergamon

Rando, R. (1984). Grief, dying and death: clinical interventions for caregivers. Champaign: Research Press co.

Article © Rita Bruche 2003

wordpress stats

 

Cat Information

   Disclaimer     Privacy Policy      Site Map
   

Contact Us (Please Read Below Before Contacting)
Unfortunately dog related advice cannot be provided personally by email. Please refer any Dog related questions to our Dog Forums
Copyright © Dog Chat. All rights reserved.


Quit Smoking