*A guest post by Kamira Gayle, Author of Impurrfectlife.com-A blog about finding joy, inspiration and comfort after pet loss.
Experiencing depression post pet loss? You are not alone. I’ve been there and chances are you or someone you know has also experienced pet loss. It’s one of the worst feelings you can have. It feels like a part of your heart is missing. So how do you move forward to a place of healing when you feel so bad? One day at a time.
I’ve been exactly where you are and today I’m going to share with you some key tips that helped lift my spirits and rid myself of depression post pet loss. I hope these tips bring you comfort, validation and support as well.
1. Understand the Stages of Grief
One of the ways to put yourself on the track to better mental state of mind is to understand the traumatic impact your loss has on the body and mind. Understanding the 5 stages of grief will help you to realise quickly that the emotions you are feeling aren’t those of a person going insane, but are the emotions of someone experiencing pain and grief. When you understand there are layers and stages to grieving, you can better deal and prepare yourself in the healing process. Certain feelings you have will not be so much a surprise but rather validation that you are experiencing what other people have gone through. This is a storm, but this too shall pass.
2. Surround yourself with supportive friends/family
A second tip to help combat your depression is surrounding yourself with positive minded empathetic and compassionate family and friends. Surrounding yourself with people who can listen and empathise with you is important. You need to feel like you have a safe space to vent, to cry or even yell without judgement. Some of the best support I received came from close friends and family members that actually met or heard me talk about my pet and/or own a pet themselves. They have a personal connection to you and through your stories; they recognise the love shared between you and your pet.
3. Reminisce with videos/ photos
One of the things that made me put a smile on my face was watching old video clips I had taken of my cat. Also, digging through old boxes of photos to find old pictures of my pet in happier healthy times gave me comfort and joy. Reminiscing about happy moments, not only brings about smiles and perhaps happy tears, but also helps break up the imagery of your pet’s last moments on Earth at the vet’s office.
If you are like me, chances are you were witness to your pet’s last days and they were not pleasant due to illness or an unexpected condition. Remembering fond memories helped lift up my spirits. Recalling memories that are positive help remind us to honour our pet’s entire lives, not focus on the sadness surrounding their death.
4. Visit support forums for bereaved pet parents
Support is so important and sometimes getting support means more than talking to friends. Visit online support blogs and forums that are geared to bereavement support and positivity. Start here at CPC Cares. You can also check out other pet bereavement groups like The Ralph Site or Rainbow Bridge for like-minded people.
5. Check out these books
If you are not in the mood for participating in forum groups, check out these books that helped me. I found them to be comforting and provide validation and explanations for my feelings.
All Pets Go to Heaven: The Spiritual Lives of the Animals We Love by Sylvia Browne
Famous psychic Sylvia Browne shares insights as to how animals serve a purpose for our lives as pet owners. She also discusses the afterlife and the ways in which our pets love and comfort us in the present and in death.
A Letter to My Cat (Page Perfect NOOK Book) by Lisa Erspamer
This e-book had me laughing and crying and everything in between. This clever book contains letters written by celebrity pet parents who have shared their stories by writing love letters in honor of their pets who have passed on.
When A Pet Dies: by Sherri Fulmer Moore
This book covers what happens when our pets dies. Specifically it covers tips for dealing with feelings after pet loss, like feelings of guilt or ways in which people react after pet loss.
6. Try volunteering with animals
After the loss of my pet, I still felt an empty void. If there is one thing that always makes me smile, it is seeing kittens and puppies. So I made a choice. Instead of sitting and sulking in the house, I choose to take action before my depression got worse. Volunteer. Helping out an organisation that helps save lives of cats helped bring me out of my funk and gave me a sense of purpose through the loss of my pet. This same strategy can work for you too. Have you heard of the phrase “Turn your Pain into Purpose?” Turn lemons to lemonade and help the lives of other animals. You may find by redirecting your energy into purposeful action, helps redirect your focus, lifts your spirits and give you comfort in knowing you are bettering the lives of other animals in your pets honour.
7. Take care of yourself
When you suffer from a traumatic event like pet loss, it’s important to remember to look out for yourself. It’s cliché but true. Eat well and exercise. If you are depressed you may not even want to get out the house. But make it a point to start with baby steps. Get up before noon, take a shower, and move around a bit. Don’t allow pet loss to be an excuse to let yourself go completely. Remember if Fluffy was still here, they would be clawing at you or biting your pant leg to get up and let’s go! Honor their memory by doing the best you can to take care of yourself. It’s okay to be depressed, however don’t allow that sadness to overtake you.
8. Seek out a professional if necessary
Last but not least, if any of these suggestions do not work for you by all means, seek out professional help. Pet loss and grief impact everyone differently and some more so than others. Listen to your body and your gut. If you know, you need more than these tips provided to make it through the day, don’t hesitate to seek a professional licensed therapist.
It is important to find ways to cope with loss, getting help if needed, and get on the track to healing. I hope these tips helped to inspire you and get you out of your depression one step at a time. Pass on to a friend in need. We are in this together.
Looking for even more tips to help fight your depression? Check out these 12 Tips to Help Conquer Depression.
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