Grieving A Best Friend: How To Cope When It’s Time To Say Goodbye

Dogs are more than part of the family, they are our best friends. Some might even say they are our soul mates.

They happily tag along everywhere you go and are there to pick you up when you feel blue, and share in the joy when you’re happy.

That special bond you share with your dog is unlike anything else. Maybe that’s part of the reason why, when it’s time to finally say goodbye, it’s such a crushing time.

Coping with the grief of losing your dog is something that affects us all one some point, yet it’s often a subject that isn’t talked about.

At Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear, we’re a family-run business and we shared in a previous blog that in May last year we lost our beautiful border collie, Zing, after a battle with cancer.

‘I love all our dogs very much, but Zing was my ‘soul dog’ and losing him was heart-breaking,’ said our co-founder Teresa.

Zing certainly left a big hole in our lives, so we know how overwhelming the grief can feel at times, but we also know that there is a way forward.

We wanted to share some thoughts on how to cope with losing a dog – whether it’s through illness or a tragic accident…

Give yourself some time

When a human relative passes away, it’s ‘normal’ to take time off work to process your feelings. With pets, the same protocol doesn’t seem to apply. But we believe there’s no shame is asking for some time out.

We also recognise that, for some people, losing yourself in work or another project is a helpful way to process what has happened. Everyone is different. The most important thing is that you don’t put pressure on yourself – or let anyone else pressurise you - to ‘get over it’ before you are ready.

Remember, grief doesn’t follow a fixed schedule. How long it takes to ‘feel better’ is different for everyone, so take as long as you need. It is perfectly acceptable to cry, so don’t try to bury your emotions.

Look after yourself

You can’t make your overwhelming feelings of sadness go away overnight, but you can take good care of yourself in the meantime.

When you lose a dog, life can very suddenly feel empty and it can be hard to find the motivation to even do simple things like make dinner or take a shower. However, try to take care of yourself. Long baths, good food and talking to friends and family who are understanding can help. See your doctor if you struggle to sleep or are suffering with depression.

Celebrate their memory

Over time, the initial trauma and shock does become less intense and the beautiful memories of all the happy times you shared with your dog are able to shine through. Lots of people find memorialising their dog helpful.

This can be through holding a memorial service for your dog, or by scattering their ashes at a special place you enjoyed together. Creating photo albums or framing treasured pictures to hang in your home can bring comfort. You could also plant a tree or get everything from plaques to jewellery made in memory of your dog.

If you’ve experienced the loss of a special doggy friend, and you don’t mind sharing, let us know in the comments what helped you…

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