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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

      TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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      Last Updated on December 3, 2019

      10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

      10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

      There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

      Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

      1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

      Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

      There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

      Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

      2. Pace Yourself

      Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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      Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

      Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

      3. You Can’t Please Everyone

      “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

      You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

      Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

      4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

      Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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      We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

      Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

      5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

      “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

      No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

      We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

      6. It’s Not All About You

      You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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      It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

      7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

      No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

      We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

      Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

      8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

      That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

      Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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      Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

      9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

      Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

      The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

      10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

      We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

      When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

      Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

      This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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      Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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