There is no easy time to lose a beloved pet, but losing a pet during the holidays is especially difficult. Especially when you’re faced with making the hard decision of euthanasia around the holidays, sometimes, though, this life-changing decision must be made. How then do you navigate the emotions during a time when you are supposed to be merry and lighthearted?
The team at Union Lake Pet Services understands the pain and wants to give grieving pet owners some suggestions on dealing with losing a pet during the holidays.
Holiday Grief and Pet Loss
You may be surprised that the Christmas season sees an increase in euthanasia. This is because many pet owners wait to spend one last holiday season with their pets before they let them go across the rainbow bridge. It is also a time when most family members have the time away from work to be there with their pets as they transition.
No matter what the reason, it is never easy. There are ways you can make this time gentler on yourself without losing the important process of emotional healing.
Change Traditions if You Need To – If the thought of hosting a large gathering or holiday dinner seems overwhelming, then forego it. Discuss with your family and loved ones that hosting is too much to do at this time. We are sure they will gladly host or discuss ways to delegate some of the tasks, like cooking and gift exchanges. While traditions are important, sometimes it is okay to pass on the holiday events for the year.
Honor Your Pet Through a Special Memorial – Alongside the traditional holiday activities, you can remember your pet by creating some special new traditions that keep them in your heart. Light a candle during the holiday dinner in their honor. Create paw print ornaments and other remembrance decorations. Donate to a worthy animal charity in your pet’s name. There are many ways you can keep their spirit alive and remember all of the things you loved most about them.
Allow Yourself to Cry – Going through the range of emotions when you lose a pet is difficult enough without the expectation of the usual holiday cheer. If you need to cry, do so. Give yourself permission to experience the loss so you can move through it. There is no perfect time to go through the loss, and just because it is the holidays doesn’t mean you cannot feel what you are feeling. Grieve without guilt or hesitancy.
Spend Time Alone if You Need To – Since this is the season for getting together, there may be some pressure for you to be more social than you feel like being. If you are not in the mood to be with others, discuss with loved ones that you need some downtime to grieve and recover. Just make sure to reach out every now and then so as not to become too isolated.
Share the Experience – On the opposite hand, many grieving pet owners have found solace in joining pet loss support groups or other support groups. It can be good for you to share your feelings with others who understand. Spending time with friends, going on walks, shopping, or out for dinner can help take your mind off of your feelings and get the support you need from those who care about you.
Not sure if it is time to say goodbye to your pet? We have an excellent video by one of our veterinarians that can help you make that hard decision. I once waited then cried all Christmas day because my pet was obviously suffering. It’s a tough decision.
We hope these suggestions bring some peace of mind to you during this time. Losing a cherished friend is so hard, but it can be made easier by reaching out and honoring where you are with your needs and emotions. Please contact us for additional recommendations on how to better cope with losing a pet during the holidays.