1. Eat something. You may not feel hungry, but food is important. Grief burns a lot of energy; you need fuel. If you can't face a full meal, nibble. Eat NOW, whether you want to or not.
2. Cry. Cry as much as you want to, whenever you feel like it.
3. Find something to do. This may seem trite, but focusing on a task really does help. The more you do, the less you dwell...
4. Count your blessings. When you lose a loved one, it's hard to focus on anything positive. Remind yourself of some of the good things that you still have by deliberately reviewing a list of your "blessings" - such as your family, your remaining pets, your friends, your interests.
5. Reflect on things that don't involve your pet. The loss of your pet may seem to touch every aspect of your life, but in reality, it hasn't changed EVERYTHING. Reflect on things that have not changed -- the things that you did and enjoyed without your pet.
6. Cuddle something furry. If you have another pet, give it some extra cuddle time - even though part of your mind is thinking that this isn't the pet you WANT to cuddle. It's still warm, and furry, and may be very confused and concerned right now. If you don't have another pet, consider cuddling a stuffed animal. Spouses are nice, but you need fur. It sounds strange but at least try it.
7. Avoid irrevocable decisions. Don't do anything you can't undo. For example, if you can't stand the sight of your pet's toys, don't throw them away - put them in a box out of sight.
8. Replace negative imagery. The last moments of your pet's life can become a powerful image, whether you witnessed them or not. If you believe that pets go on to an afterlife, for example, try replacing the image of the "last" moment of your pet's life with the "next" moment: The moment it arrives, healthy and whole, on the other side. If you don't believe in an afterlife, concentrate on the special things you did for your pet to make THIS life a blessing for it.
9. Be honest with yourself. You've been wounded, and you hurt. You're not weak, crazy, or overly sentimental to feel this way. You WILL hurt, and it will take time to heal.
10. Make a decision to work through grief. For some people grief has persisted for years: They are just as upset, just as angry, just as miserable over their loss as they were the day it happened. Such people tend to be consumed with bitterness, obsessing over their loss - and not only do they suffer, but they also bring suffering to everyone around them. You can't control whether or not you grieve. But you can decide whether or not to let that grief control YOU.
Lastly, be sad for those who lives will never be touched by such a wonderful creature. They may never know this feeling. You may not feel like it now, but it is a blessing and you have gained spiritually from it.
Cherish the memories with a warm smile. Smile because you know that pets always feel what you do...make them happy to know you are well.
(I am not sure who originally wrote this but I have given this to many of my clients who have lost a pet and have been thanked for it afterwards regularly. Though I did modify it a bit, kudos to the original author! Dr.C)
Grief upon the loss of a pet is a normal response, and a very individual one. For some people, grieving for a pet who has died may be an even more difficult process than grieving for a human loved one. One reason is that the support network of understanding and caring people may be smaller. If a person has lost a human loved one, the friends, family, co-workers, etc., will all be understanding. They may send cards, flowers, and offer food and companionship. This is often not the case when a pet dies.
People who have a pet who has died need to talk to someone. Often, family members and friends are very supportive, but in some instances, they may not understand how important your pet was to you. It is important to find someone who does understand.
Do Animals Grieve?
We all know of animals who have stopped eating, playing, or interacting when another pet in the household has died. They are experiencing a loss of their own; plus they often sense the owner's sorrow as well. After a pet dies, we can help the other pets in the household by keeping their routines as unchanged as possible. Increasing their activity through going for walks or playing with toys may be helpful. This will not only benefit your pet, but help you too. If they are acting depressed or are not eating, be careful not to reinforce or reward their behavior. Giving them extra attention or different food when they behave this way may actually cause them to start using those behaviors as ways to obtain more attention or get special treats.