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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 March 30, 2020

      What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

      What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

      Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

      You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

      This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

      What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

      According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

      Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

      There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

      How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

      When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

      Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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      1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

      One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

      The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

      Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

      2. Be Honest

      A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

      If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

      On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

      Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

      3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

      Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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      If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

      4. Succeed at Something

      When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

      Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

      5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

      Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

      Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

      If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

      If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

      Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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      6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

      Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

      You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

      On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

      You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

      7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

      Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

      Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

      Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

      When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

      Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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      In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

      Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

      It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

      Final Thoughts

      When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

      The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

      Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

      Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

      Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

      More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

      Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
      [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
      [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
      [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
      [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
      [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
      [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
      [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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