Losing a pet is devastating. The emotions you experience cannot be fully understood or mitigated by planning or expectation. If your pet has borne a terminal illness, knowing that the end is coming is no less painful than one that arrives unannounced.
Similarly, there is no ‘right’ way to feel; no ‘normal’ length of time to grieve. Some people find it helpful to look for a timeline of grief, so that they can see a glimmer of light ahead, identifying a time when they might start to feel better again.
‘Time heals’ we often hear. Those of us who have been through bereavement know that the pain never magically goes away, but it does become manageable as time passes. The intense feelings of loss, anger and pain do become less raw as the months inevitably tick on. With a physical injury, the wound heals with time and we are left with a scar. The same is true with emotional pain, our hearts and our minds draw a veil over the immediate pain, but a scar remains. With time we can remember our lost friends with a smile instead of a tear.
Just how long this takes is difficult to measure. It will be different for each of us and with every pet, as a wide range of factors affect our handling of grief. So whilst we may not be able to say, “you’ll feel better in x weeks”, we can say that with time, you will start to notice the signs of healing:
- You have more good days than bad
- Energy and motivation levels increase
- Memories are fond, rather than traumatic
- You can think constructively about the loss of your loved one and its impact on your life
- Sleep patterns return to normal
- You feel optimistic about the future
- Performance at work improves
- You’re able to focus on personal health and wellbeing
- Relationships feel more functional and healthy
- You feel as though you are ‘re-joining the human race’
- You begin to seek emotional and physical intimacy again
You’ll find more thoughts on the myth of the grief timeline here.
And as always, there’s a huge range of resources available at The Ralph Site.
With very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team