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Healing From Pet Loss During the Holiday

The holidays are around the corner and it can be easy to feel lonely and isolated after experiencing the loss of a pet. If this is your first holiday without a beloved family cat or dogóbelow are five ways in getting through these weeks without having to "be strong", "act normal" or hide from the emotional pain.

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Five ways to cope with pet loss during the holidays.

  1. Deck the halls with new rituals. Honor your departed pet's memory by sharing a story, hanging a stocking, ornament or lighting a candle in remembrance, creating new rituals is important in integrating the loss and creating new traditions. It is important to acknowledge the bond and depth of relationship you've shared with your pet.

  2. Talk about your feelings with those you love and love you. Celebrate your beloved pet with people who understand. Talk about the gifts you've received from your furry family member. Acknowledge the ways you've moved through grief this year.

  3. Acknowledge all of your emotions. Give yourself permission to FEEL. To laugh, cry, be in joy, quiet, take pleasure in the holidays. You don't have to be strong and pretend everything is fine if it isn't. Sometimes, it can be difficult to experience joy when one is "mourning". There can be a sense of "guilt" in having fun. It is not disrespectful to the memory of the departed pet if you enjoy yourself. -Plan ahead and make backup plans. Make several plans for holiday dinner and parties. IE- I will attend the Christmas party, but if it becomes too hard for me emotionally, I will stay home with a movie, call a friend for a walk. Create a list of close friends you can reach out to ahead of time. A studies show volunteering improves your emotional and physical health. Volunteer in memory of your beloved pet. Bring old towels to a shelter. Create gift baskets for homebound seniors with pets. The possibilities are endless and will help take your mind off the death of your pet.

  4. Self-care/creative outlets. Take baths, long walks, journal, massages, soothing music, adequate sleep and rest, anything that supports you in being gentle with yourself. Do something creative! Create a holiday scrapbook, painting, or journaling can help channel feelings and emotions in a positive way.

  5. If you find yourself without close friends of family and are having a difficult time, find a grief support group in your area. Grief is an ongoing process, lean into the ebb and flow of pain by journeying through it.


Article credit: Claire Gillenson, M.A. Pet Loss Educator/Life Transitions Coach