What Makes Losing a Pet So Hard?

Recently I’ve taken up having pets again. I forgot how nice it is to come home to a fuzzy friend, whether it is a dog, cat or ferret. When they are your own and they go with you wherever you go, there becomes a true bond. We come to each other for comfort.

They don’t judge you. They just want food, loving and care.  They seem to always want your attention when you don’t want it, and they always seem to say goodbye too soon, and for me, unexpectedly.

Recently, my Princess Shiro got too adventurous, tried to play with some dogs, and didn’t survive.  On Monday afternoon I came home to find her slobbered on, her face in a gasp, and she was breathing heavily.

I brought her to my room immediately.  After a few minutes, she stopped breathing and passed.  Even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.

Princess Shiro

I was getting to know Shiro more the last few months.  She loved cuddles, and loved to lie about and view the room.  When she did play, she had this craziness about her that always made anybody watching laugh.

Losing a pet that you love is never something that you want.  It is something that will happen eventually (unless your pet outlives you). With my fibromyalgia, the stress of something like this is not something I want on my body. I was crying hard for Shiro when I realized that if I kept crying, I would not be well.

How does someone move forward with losing a pet while not forgetting? Here are some tips that I did (and still do) to do to help me with the passing of Shiro.

Say Goodbye

In one way or another, have some sort of ceremony to say goodbye.  You may want to bury your pet, or even get it cremated.  For Shiro, I simply wrapped her in a t-shirt that said “awesome”, held her a bit, and then laid her in the trash can.  She was in there for 2 days before the trash was taken out, so I got to say my goodbye a few days while I walked by.

If your pet is lost, you may want to bury or burn some pictures or items of your pet to say goodbye.  You could also do this with your pet.

Either way, celebrate your pet’s life and what you brought to each other.

Don’t Dwell On Why

It’s very easy to go into the past and think “what ifs”.  What if I skipped the gas station and came home sooner? What if I didn’t move her? What if… What if…

“What if”s will kill you on the inside.  What happened, happened.  Did I learn something? Yes, blocking the door doesn’t work. They get out.  Ferrets aren’t out when I’m gone anymore. I learned something for the future.  Don’t torture yourself about the past.

Remember The Good Times & Be Grateful

I love showing people pictures of Shiro, and I will always remember Princess Shiro.  She was one of my first ferrets.  I first fell in love with her and Kody. I will never forget her.

Whenever I start to think thoughts that make me cry, whenever those “what ifs” come up, I simply switch to the good times.  I remember what she loved, and how she was, and I am grateful to have had her.  (Gratitude has been linked to well-being.)

Create Something In Their Memory

For me, I’m an artist and creating art is one way I honor Shiro.  Maybe you write a poem, create some art, make a collage.  Or just look at photos and remember how lucky you were to have your pet in your life.

You can do a celebratory dinner, or donate money in their honor.  Whatever you feel expresses your love for your dear pet, do it!

Know How Good They Had It With You

Listen, there are a lot of people who don’t care about your pets.  How do I know that you care about yours? Well, you found yourself to this article, and you have read it up until here. That tells me you care.

I know that Shiro’s life consisted of 15 to 30 minutes of play a day, and that was about it.  The rest of the time was in the cage.

With me, every time I am home, they are allowed to roam around me and sleep where they can find a spot.  They love it. To the point that when I do put them in the cage, they usually go straight to sleep.

While her life was short, it was much better then it was set out to be.

If you have had a pet from birth, realize that they could have ended up with anybody.  They got you.  How lucky is that?

Realize That Losing A Pet Is Part of Having A Pet

This really helped me.  I was talking to a friend who had recently lost her service dog.  I told her about my recent tragedy and she said “With a pet, one moment they are fine and one moment you are making that life and death decision.”

I thought about it a bit.  Did I want to go through this again? I have two other ferrets, who are going to die eventually. I realized, that yes, they are worth it.  All the good times are worth the heartbreak of the loss.

2 thoughts on “What Makes Losing a Pet So Hard?”

  1. I am sorry for your loss of your ferret, Princess Shiro. I have had and lost three dogs and have two more dogs now. Yes, it was terribly painful to have my dogs die, but while they were alive they brought so much love and laughter into my life. I cannot imagine not having a dog or two living with me. They are loyal, loving and fascinating and have taught me a lot by their example. I know without a doubt that they think, reason to a certain degree and have feelings and emotions. I can imagine you may have similar thoughts about and experiences with your ferrets. I’m glad you recognize the positive things they have contributed to your life. It saddens me to hear people say they will never have another dog or cat because it’s too painful to lose them. It seems they can’t see past the loss to the many years of companionship they enjoyed with their pets.

    • Reminds me of this quote:

      The risk of love is loss and the price of loss is grief – but the pain of grief is only a shadow compared with the pain of never risking love.

      Hilary Stanton Zunin


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