7 Steps to Surviving Loss

1. Mourn. You’ll grieve without giving it any thought, but mourning is putting action to your grief. Have a funeral. Plan a memorial. Journal. Make a collage. Write a poem. Create an altar of love dedicated to your dog. Do something to express your feelings and honor your sweet dog.

2. Be gentle on yourself. What you’re going through is hard enough without making it worse by beating yourself up over the circumstances or thinking you should feel differently than you do. Whatever you’re feeling is ok, and what’s done is done, so see if you can keep self-judgment out of the picture.

3. Take care of yourself. Loss equals stress and is enough for the body to deal with. Do your best to eat well and get enough rest. Avoid sugar, alcohol or other vices to get through the pain, which can lower your immune system further, lead to illness and only prolong your distress.

4. Embrace the pain, which means accept what you’re feeling and let it move through you, rather than try to block or resist it. While it may seem to hurt more in the short term, your healing will be faster and more complete than if you try to deny how much you’re hurting.

5. Remember that the relationship with your dog was more than with his (or her) soft furry body. While his body may be gone, the love between you and the bond you share is eternal!

6. Ask your dog for a sign that (s)he is still with you. My belief is that your dog’s spirit lives on and, as in life, wants to bring you comfort. The key is to ask, keep your eyes and your heart open, and release attachment to it needing to come in a certain way.

7. Find gratitude in your heart. No matter how long you had your dog or what the circumstances of loss are, focus as often and as long as you can on gratitude for having known each other and the love you shared. And let me add that while you may not feel like giving thanks, now is the time to count the gifts your precious pup gave you.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr Seuss