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How To Cope With The Death Of A Pet

How To Cope With The Death Of A Pet

Months have passed, but I’m still grieving the passing of Chelsea. She was a German Shepherd who was not just a pet to me, but family. As I continue to mourn the loss of our beloved family pet, I have realized that there were steps that helped me get through her passing. Now, I want to remind you that every person grieves differently. Some of my methods may work for you, while others will fall flat. The important thing to remember is that the ones that can help you will help you.

1. I acknowledged that I was grieving. 

Psychology has established that once you accept you are grieving, you have minimized the problem by 50%. On the contrary, denying that you’re grieving doesn’t help at all. It has the opposite effect on the situation. Just because other people find it weird that you’re crying over the death of a pet doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.

Denial of the truth always warps your feelings and your balance. Refusing to admit that you lost in a competition is not healthy, either – not accepting that you did not win the hand of your lady love is detrimental to your sanity. And denial of the fact that your pet is dead is not good for you, as well.

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So go ahead, grieve. This has a cleansing effect on your overall makeup and it’s part of the process you have to go through.

2. I Got busy.

Go through number one, but go back to the same routines you did before the sad event happened. Busyness will allow you to focus on other things while grieving. This will lessen the impact of your loss, in some ways. In relation to this, I’m aware that there are many materials on psychology sites and books that teach the contradicting point that busyness, or any form of distraction, will help for a time, but won’t help you truly heal in the long run. However, my experience tells a different story. By being busy, I have put myself in a better position to cope with Chelsea’s passing.

So my suggestion is to get back to the groove as soon as you can manage it. If, like me, you write for a living, go back to writing once you gain the strength to do so. Dive into the daily activities you used to do. In case you remember your pet while working, acknowledge it. Don’t deny it, and give yourself a break for a few moments. Take note – your breaks should not be too long, but not too short, either. After the first few days of the incident, give yourself longer breaks, but as you go along the process, take shorter breaks. It worked for me. I hope it will for you, too.

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Chelsea and me_resized
    Me and Chelsea during her prime

    3. I Talked it out.

    Talk to people who can relate to your grieving. Friends who have experienced grieving the death of a pet will help a lot. In case you know someone who is going through the same situation like yours, at the same time, that would be great. Seek out that person, and spent time together even just for one hour every week. Talking it out with someone going through the same experience is beneficial for your condition. Support from people who understand during this time is an effective pain buffer.

    Another idea that you can do, if you’re up to it, is to organize a small group of pet owners. Meet with them every week and bond with them. I’m pretty sure some of them have experienced losing a dear dog companion. Or, if not, then simply talking with them will help to ease the pain. It would be wise because, like you, they are pet parents. You can chat with them about your sad experience. Experts say that speaking to others who understand losing a pet can provide support to people like you who are mourning.

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    4. I memorialized Chelsea.

    Dr. Amir Shanan, DVM, and owner of Compassionate Veterinary Hospice, recommends gathering family and friends to reminisce the good times you’ve had with your pet. Based on this idea, here’s a personal recommendation – write a letter to your pet. I know, that sounds a little strange and hard if you’re not used to expressing your emotions in writing, but this may help clarify your grief and sadness of losing your beloved pet. A well produced video, a framed photo, or an album of the pet’s photos can help remind a pet parent of their dog companion.

    A different way to memorialize that some people do is to keep their pet’s ashes and bury them in their pet’s favorite spot. What my wife and I did was different. We made a photo album of Chelsea. When we miss her, we bring out the album and talk about her incessantly. If we feel like crying, we just let go, and we cry together.

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    chelsea and tony_lifehack
      A three month old Chelsea, posing with me

      5. I spend significant time with another pet (Do this when you are ready). 

      I have a big advantage over other people who have lost a pet. My Chelsea has a daughter named Reigne and she lives with us. When Chelsea passed away, I made sure Reigne was getting the best of care. Since I got so busy with my freelance writing business during Chesea’s last months with us, I’m partly blaming myself for her death. But this is an entirely normal reaction of people who are grieving. The thing is – the presence of a pet who is a direct descendant of the one who passed away made things easier for me. The thought that Reigne has Chelsea’s blood somehow comforts me.

      I made a point to give the utmost care Reigne needed. I made sure her meals were given on time, consistently. I religiously go to the vet for her regular check up. Her vet check her for ticks, unusual developments, and anything else I can keep on top of to make her even healthier.

      6. I talk to her even today.

      I know this is a bit weird, but it’s one of my coping mechanisms. Every time I pass by her house and favorite spot – yes, her doghouse is still there – I say “Hello, Chelsea!” Call me crazy, but I still do this even now. It’s been 10 months, but this little gesture helps me cope with her absence. In fact, I just talked with my wife minutes ago, and I told her, when I will finally get another dog companion, I will take home another German Shepherd.

      With my wonderful experiences with Chelsea, I have developed a biased preference for the sweet loyalty of German Shepherds. Chelsea was extra loyal, friendly to the highest degree, and astonishingly intelligent. Call me sentimental if you must, but when I will finally bring home that new dog friend, I think I will name her Chelsea again.

      Featured photo credit: Nikkors n Chips/Photo Credit: Nikkors n Chips via Compfight cc via compfight.com

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      Anthony Dejolde

      Freelance Writer/Blogger/Copywriter

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      Last Updated on August 16, 2018

      10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

      10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

      The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

      In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

      Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

      1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

      What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

      Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

      2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

      Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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      How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

      Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

      Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

      3. Get comfortable with discomfort

      One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

      Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

      4. See failure as a teacher

      Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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      Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

      Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

      10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

      5. Take baby steps

      Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

      Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

      Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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      The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

      6. Hang out with risk takers

      There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

      Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

      7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

      Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

      Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

      8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

      What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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      9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

      Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

      If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

      10. Focus on the fun

      Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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