Last night we found our sweet Moo in his forever sleep. He looked cozy and peaceful as he lay still in his hut, we are devastated. He went through so much while he was with us but for the past two weeks he was doing so well. He gained all his weight back and maintained it, he was social and happy. We knew that he was never quite right from the get go, starting with his bad eye and almost not surviving his surgery. But crisis after crisis he emerged, and even though I prepared myself that he would probably not live a long life I didn’t think it would end so quickly.
Last night we also lost a rescue gecko named Whiskey who we have had almost two years. Her age was unknown and she came to us paralyzed, which we were able to reverse with 2 months of exposure to UVB light and hand feeding a proper, high quality diet. We tried to save her but it was too late, either she had something genetically/internally wrong or it was the end of her natural life.
Any loss is difficult to bear, two in one evening is a blow so devastating I almost lost it.
This brings me to the purpose of this blog post- how to deal and cope with the loss of a beloved pet and family member.
The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different and thus everyone will react differently to loss. There is no right or wrong way, nor is there any “acceptable” amount of time in which to grieve. There are some who are able to get over a loss quickly and some for whom it takes months or years, there are so many different factors that you cannot compare one person to another. So don’t let anyone tell you you need to just “get over it”, take the time you need to mourn the loss but also try to remember all the good times you had with your friend.
How I Personally Cope with Loss
Being a rescue who takes in animals with medical issues, we experience a lot of heart break as well as triumph. It’s the heart break that hits the hardest and lingers the most.
For myself, animals are the best therapy. We have many hamsters who still need care and snuggles as well as the rest of what I lovingly call our “horde” who all love getting one on one time. So I spend my time with them, whether that is just sitting and chatting with our birds Rick and Henry, or getting Angus out for some snuggle sack time, or reading a good book while our two cats lay in my lap.
I also meditate. Yes, you read correctly- meditation helps calm your thoughts and nerves and lets you focus. It’s quiet time that I find rejuvenating and much needed when I’m going through difficult times. I have an app on my phone called Calm. Most of the features in this app have to be unlocked by buying a subscription (which I do have-but this is not at all sponsored, I don’t get anything if you download or purchase within the app) but there are 7 days of meditation available for free and you can repeat them as many times as you wish. I did this first and found that it helped me so much that I purchased a subscription.
I also do yoga- if you take a look at Yoga with Adriene on YouTube I find her videos to be the most calming and easy to follow. She has a variety of different sessions and does also have an app you can download if you prefer that. Yoga is another way I take time for myself to heal and quiet my thoughts. Both meditation and yoga help with anxiety as well so they are great practices to include in your day to day life.
Pet Bereavement Counseling
Many people are unaware this exists but there are professional pet bereavement counselors there to help. The best way to find out about any in your area is to contact your veterinarian, they will be able to point you in the right direction and possibly even give you pamphlets to look at.
There is a lot of stigma around counseling and therapy, but it does help. There is nothing wrong with needing someone to talk to, and these people can give you suggestions on what you can do to cope with the loss you are feeling.
Everything I’ve mentioned above are just suggestions based on what I know works for me and what others have told me worked for them. I mentioned this already previously but always try to focus on the good times you had with your pet. How you changed their life for the better by bringing them home and how they also changed yours. Don’t ever blame yourself for the loss, you will drive yourself crazy with “what ifs”- often there is nothing that could’ve been done or you have already done everything you can. Sometimes it’s just time and that’s that, which is a hard thing to face.
Carry your friend in your heart but also don’t be afraid to open yourself up to another friend. You still have lots of love to give and there is certainly another furry/feathered/scaled friend out there ready to receive it.
I am by no means a professional, but I am always here to listen to stories and offer advice when I can. Anyone is more than welcome to send me a message via our Contact Us form if they need to talk, I can be a pretty good listener!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I know this was a long one. And a thank you from the bottom of my heart for everyone who followed Moo’s story and rooted for him. I miss him terribly but I know he is happy wherever he is now.