The holidays. A time when love is in the atmosphere, everyone is happy, and people are stringing lights along with mistletoe. The truth; nevertheless, is to get somebody who has experienced the death of the pet, or any type of loss, this type of season can be particularly painful. It’s perfectly normal, and healthy, to have such a response.
Below are five steps you can take that might help you (or a loved one) get through the holidays a little easier this year. If you’re struggling to know what to say to a loved one who has lost a pet this season,
Let’s jump in.
Learn to be ok with saying “No,” even if this changes traditions.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year, not just because the in-laws are coming into town, but most of us put strong expectations for ourselves. We may have developed holiday customs our loved one’s members and friends expect us to engage in, year after year. We’re the one expected to bring the renowned dessert for our holiday work party. Or, we could be the person who hosts the vacation dinner and intends out the lighting for this season.
One of the most important, and toughest things to do that time of year is always learning to be fine with saying “no”. For this, you might have to excuse yourself from those holiday expectations. Particularly if your pet’s death is quite current, we have to take some time and space to experience our emotions. It’s very normal, and fit, to be considerably impacted by the departure of our pet.
As a lot of us do, we might struggle with telling ourselves, “it’s really ok not to hang the lights up this year.” Make sure you check-in on your own. Will obtaining the lights dangled and viewing with their twinkle deliver comfort to you through your time of grief? Or, would hanging those lights bring additional pain and discomfort this year which you don’t feel prepared for? In this case, have a few off from hanging these lights and educate yourself you’ll add a few new ones next year.
Take time for yourself. No, really. Do it.
Typically after a loss, we discover that we aren’t sleeping very much or appear to be yelling all the time and can not seem to stop. If we do not take some opportunity to try and meet with our cups up, even during the grieving process, we consider the chance of getting sick, taking out things on our loved ones, or being greatly impacted in our professional/work lives.
The holidays can make taking time to yourself even trickier, as discussed above there’s an additional sense of holiday pressure and expectation to keep traditions and appear at your friend’s house for their annual holiday event.
Find a way to integrate your pet into holiday traditions, or create new ones
When we experience the passing of a human friend or loved one we typically know that which we have to perform and how to proceed through our grief. These clinics typically are tied to our civilization, faith, religious practices, and family traditions.
When a pet dies, we are left wondering just how to memorialize their passing and the way to move through the experience for closing. We may even experience a substantial cultural stigma that is still associated with experiencing the death of our companion animals.
Many traditions are located at the memories of the vacation. This might be the perfect time of year to make a new holiday tradition to honor the memory of your pet. You might decide that during the holiday dinner you will light a candle in their honor and proceed around the table watching a favorable memory and experience of them. You might make a keepsake ornament in their own honour. You might find it valuable to buy toys and things to pets and donate them.
Make sure you’re continuing to check-in with yourself about your willingness for a variety of activities. Memorializing your pet during the holidays can be something small, or it may be something large. If you are taking the opportunity to say”no” for friends and family when things are overpowering and taking time yourself at self-care, you will be able to check-in more easily what you feel ready for. This measure may be an especially significant one to obtain some closure as soon as your pets death is unexpected, traumatic, or even unexpected.
Allow yourself to cry
I cannot express the value of giving yourself permission to experience your emotions and cry. This is an ideal and very natural reaction to having the death of a loved one. Many of us truly do believe their pets to be members of their family, just as we consider siblings, kids, and our spouses.
You might have been told “it’s just a dog, you can find a different one” or even”your cat dwelt long enough” These messages can make us feel extra guilt when we are openly and actively mourning the departure of our pets. The reality is, most people wouldn’t mention, “it was the only grandma, you can find another one.” A lot of folks are uncomfortable at baseline with departure and do not know what to say to support those in their lives. In our fast-paced civilization, it appears easier than ever to ignore something which will eventually happen to all of us.
If you don’t give yourself permission to yell, I guarantee you that it will come out in other ways. It may come out to perfect strangers as road rage, it might emerge as snarky remarks for your spouse, or it can come out from negative coping strategies such as excessive drinking.
Share your experience with a trusted friend or supportive community. Don’t Isolate.
For most, the holidays at baseline include conflicted emotions. Contrary to our animal counterparts, our individual relationships can be complicated and tricky. We may not care for Uncle Joe but possess family anticipation to invite them which causes anxiety in the household. We might not have the funds to sponsor this kind of extravagant holiday celebration and get gifts, but we could anyway because of all those expectations we spoke about before.
Even though the holidays are supposed to be quite a time to reveal, spend some time with loved ones, and show appreciation, it’s a lot easier to get caught in rather the contrary. In this moment, it’s easy to isolate and educate ourselves we do not wish to ruin anyone else’s holidays. We sit at home in our excitement. In our pain. In our despair.
We may feel like we don’t want to disturb anyone else. We might still be trying to cope in an unhealthy fashion by telling ourselves “it was just a pet.’ We may not understand what to say or how to make ourselves feel any better.
It’s important in this time to find a trustworthy friend that you may talk about your annoyance with. If you are a friend, please keep these things in your mind. Now, it is important to not forget the isolating and carrying alone time to process are two different things. You might even consider speaking to a therapist who has expertise with grief and pet loss. This may be a really valuable step.
BONUS: It’s ok to feel happiness, too.
All of us at some point will feel that the pain won’t ever leave. We may feel overwhelmed and swallowed in our grief and longing for our companion to come back to us. We will have many causes within the holidays as we unpack ornaments or might even discover pet hair setting out holiday decorations.
This is all normal. This is great. But, our emotions are tricky. At some point, the painful memories turn into fond memories and deliver us a smile. It doesn’t have to be difficult to tell ourselves if I am not in pain that they didn’t matter. This idea can easily justify bringing extra strain to ourselves during an already exceptionally tough time.
Let those moments of fondness slide. It’s okay to smile. We grieve as far as we’ve loved, and we’ve shared so many moments of happiness. Allow that smile to come up and remember all the lessons our pets have taught us concerning forgiveness, gratitude, and heartfelt love.