Dealing with the day-to-day loss of a pet
Dealing with the day-to-day loss of a pet. For most of us our pets are an important part of our daily routine. We get up we feed them. We eat our breakfast and then we walk them or muck them out or change their water. If you work from home you probably have them by your side for inspiration or on your lap during the day. At lunchtime we feed them again and so on. The day ticks by punctuated by looking after them and getting loads of love in return.
When that routine is broken
One of the hardest aspects of losing a pet is that our whole day is thrown into chaos. Even if you still have other pets you will go to fill up their bowls so many times. You will automatically get your boots on ready for your walk or to visit the stables. Our bodies are actually quite easy to programme and are pets are experts in getting us to love the structure of the day that they provide.
This is why it can be so difficult to cope with their loss. How ever hard you try to forget the reminders are hardwired into your day. One minute you think you’re doing okay, the next you are sobbing at the sight of an empty bowl that you can’t bare to put away.
Taking care of yourself
Grief is a physical thing. It impacts your body as much as your soul. And although you may not feel like you are in the mood for self-care I promise you it is the most important thing you can do to soften the blow of bereavement. You cannot bring them back but you can do some simple things that will help.
Have a bath before bed
I know this may be easier said than done but I swear by a hot bath with plenty of bubbles for helping to restore my wellness. I find it especially good just before I go to bed. I get a good book that has a pacy story that can whisk me out of my head. It really helps my sleep and we need our sleep to do battle with the grief again tomorrow.
Get outside and walk every day
I appreciate that if you have just lost your dog then you might not feel like walking but it is important to do it. Can you find a friend and go for a walk somewhere that you’ve never taken your dog? So many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between outdoor light and improved mental health. Sitting inside will make you feel worse. The colours and fresh air of being outside will lift your spirits. You may not manage a long walk at first but you will benefit from being in outdoors, they don’t call it the ‘great outdoors’ for nothing.
Can you get to a yoga class? The breathing and the mindfulness of doing a yoga session will help to take you out of your grief for a little while giving your body the essential time it needs to repair. If you can’t get to a class there are lots of easy to follow session on Youtube, this one is for beginners and is just 10 minutes.
Daily Comfort Food
Your body needs a lot of love right now. And even if you feel like not eating anything or stuffing yourself with a family packet of crisps, now is the time to get as much nutrition-packed meals down you as you can. I regularly post recipes that can bring you a little comfort, my go-to meal when I’m feeling low is Feel-good Chicken Soup. You can replace the chicken with a veggie alternative such as quorn or – my current favourite – Taste & Glory roast tenderstrips.
It’s amazing how many ailments are caused by dehydration. That dull headache is partially because of all the crying but when was the last time that you had a glass of water? You stand the best chance of coping with the pain by keeping your water levels topped up.
Creating a new normal
Be kind to yourself as you figure out your new normal. If you have other pets they will be keeping you in a structure. They will also be dealing with the loss. Try putting something with the scent of your pet in with them. If you don’t have other pets try to speak to friends who understand. Tell them how you are feeling. It’s okay to lean on our friendships when we are dealing with pet bereavement.
I don’t have a magic wand. This may take a little while or it may take a long time. Grief seems to find it’s own path. But it is a journey and the more you fight it the harder it will be. Try to remember to be as kind to yourself as you were to your pet. Look after yourself. Dealing with the day-to-day loss of a pet is hard, I’m not saying that it isn’t. But you can do practical things like eating well and exercising that will reduce the harshness until you’re ready.