questionshow do you deal with the loss of a much-loved pet?

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It's cliched, but I have found that time is really all that helps. We did lavish more attention on our others, but it's stil hard. Sorry for your losses.

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More pets. You won't be able to replace the ones you've lost, but new ones will distract everybody and make the loss easier.

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Visit an animal rescue center with your family and see if you can all fall in love with another pet. As noted above, this will distract you (and your other pets) from your loss. And think of the happy memories.

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So sorry to hear about your loss. I have lost a few pets and can completely empathize with what you are going through. I think one of the biggest things for me was being conditioned when I was young that pets are just animals, but it turns out that psychologically they are every bit the family members as your human family.

Like @okham said, give yourself time to grieve and feel it, try not to bury those feelings and move on. Also don't just jump to another pet immediately to try to cover up the pain, it just doesn't work.

I know a few friends of mine have written online memorials to help with their grief at one of the several pet memorial sites out there on the Interwebs and there are several support groups and help communities as well.

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Talk about it.

DO NOT TRY TO REPLACE THE PET.
I made this huge mistake and our 2nd dog was not liked much because we tried to make her a replacement.

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I agree with @caffeine_dude that you can never replace them. You get someone new to spoil rotten for as long as you can.

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I don't have an answer to the question, but I want to say anyway that I am so sorry for your loss.

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So very sorry for your losses. It's never easy, but to lose 2 so close together must seem unbearable. I agree w/those who said to grieve and not get another pet right away. But, I also understand it's different for some; another 1 right away makes sense. Only you & your family can decide that.

I am now pet-less - had 8 cats at once. Lost them 1 by 1. Have made the decision that I will not have any more. The death of each of those darlings took a piece of me. Now I enjoy moments w/a few neighborhood dogs. And, I live vicariously when talking to a friend who describes the antics of her 2 cats.

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I am very sorry for your loss. We had to put our 9 year old Bichon to sleep in February about a month after she was diagnosed cancer. We were grief sticken when we found it was terminal, but followed the doctor's recommendation to make whatever time she had left as happy for her as possible, so that's what we did for the last several weeks of her life - let her play as much as she could and cherished her every minute of the day. Going through that actually made it easier once she was gone, because we have had the solace in knowing that we enjoyed her and made her happy and comfortable for the time she was with us. Good luck.

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Sorry to hear about your losses. My wife and I had to put our dog down about two years ago. We live in the country so we were able to get away with burying her in our backyard without drawing any unwanted attention. We then subsequently planted a tree where we buried her (a dogwood, naturally) to commemorate her.

It sounds like you have already made your decision with the remains, but it is never too late to plant a tree. The tree won't replace your lost pet by any stretch of the imagination, but it will give you a nice place to remember them. And of course if you sell the house, nobody asks questions about trees planted on the property.

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I have had to make the choice to put down two dogs due to cancer. I took some solace in the fact that I let them go before they were suffering very much, and that they knew they were loved.

Time helps. Death and loss always hurt, but time marches on whether you want it to or not.

I enjoy telling stories about them, and recapturing some of the joy of their lives, though it is bittersweet. Remembering, grieving, moving forward day by day--it is both the least you can do and the most you can do.

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I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't know pets, but I know grief. You'll move through it, but grieving takes time, and just give yourselves permission to perhaps not be at your best for a while, and also give yourselves and each other some extra TLC. Don't feel pressured to just "get over it" or "move on" to another pet if you're not ready to do that.

I also agree that talking about the loss and about the animals is good, especially within the family and with other people who have lost pets. Chances are, if you're thinking about your animals, they are too, and it helps everyone to know they're not alone.

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@okham: Exactly. You can never replace a pet, but personally, I think you can honor their memory by giving another animal a home. A couple of years ago we lost the best cat in the world very unexpectedly, and I was more devastated than I would ever have expected. My husband pointed out that we were likely to get another cat at some point, so why let one stay at the Humane Society longer than necessary? We ended up coming home with two cats within the week, and we frequently talk about how we all have each other now because of our great boy Chance. We explained very clearly to our kids that nothing could ever replace him, but that because he meant so much to us, we wanted to give another cat the chance to have a safe and happy home as well.

There's no one solution for everyone, but I do think that if you are inclined to get more pets, you can do it without trying to short-change your own grieving period. I am sorry for your losses.

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I really appreciate all of the kind responses. I should have thought sooner about coming here to post this. I volunteer a lot in the disability community and was hesitant to mention our loss there as it seems so insignificant compared to what many of them are going through. And since we're laying off almost 70% of our staff at work, it hardly seems appropriate to discuss it there, either. So much going on at once. Maybe that's why I'm taking it so hard. Buddy, the cat, was still somewhat new to the family, but was getting sweeter every day. Rascal, the Border Collie, was my favorite. I always felt guilty saying that. It seemed like saying one of my kids was my favorite.

I caught DH looking at puppy ads in the paper a little while ago. It's probably still a bit too soon to add to our family, but maybe after I retire at the end of June it would be a good time to take on another critter since I hope to stay home for a month or two before I dip back into the job market.

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Again, my sympathies as well... we just lost our Border Terrier. He was 16 and a half years old. I always referred to him as my four legged furry son. We have no children so he was treated and lavished upon as though he was. We are not rushing to get another , although we definitely will. We are taking time to mourn and honor his life. We buried him in our backyard and just this weekend purchased and planted a beautiful azalea bush above his grave. This way his life can be passed onto another in a sense. Seeing this bush especially in full bloom will be an ongoing testament and tribute to his life. He was my best friend and his death will give life to this beautiful bush which will always serve as a reminder of our wonderful time together...

Time, proper mourning, and a memorial to serve as a tribute will help ease the pain...

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Please accept my deepest sympathies.

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I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my best bud, a 13-year old cat, in Sept. It was a difficult time for me & also for my other cat (11-year old Henry).

At first I wanted to make sure Henry was ok; he'd always had another cat around. I bought him a new cat tree, new toys, made sure he wasn't home alone very much. We both had a lot of adjusting to do without Monster, both individually & in our relationship with each other (yes, I'm a crazy cat lady).

It got worse before it got better: Henry was ill right before Xmas and while he recovered just fine, the stress took its toll on me.

@OKHAM is right, though, it just takes time. I still have days where I worry unnecessarily about Henry, just due to the suddenness of Monster's death. But we are in a good place now, and I'm even thinking about getting a new friend for Henry. I think he'd like that (though I worry about that too!).

Be patient with yourselves. It will get better. The pain will subside & happy memories will remain.

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Not so well would be my answer.

Regardless of the reason, the loss of any dog we've ever had just wipes me out.

Cats I don't like, but dogs I latch on to and can't let go.

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I actually just buried my dog today, also lost him because of cancer.

I buried him next to his "brother" in the woods we used to walk in all the time.

It might not be for everyone, but digging the grave myself was oddly therapeutic for me.

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@belyndag: Sorry for your loss...........we understand as ours are treated as respected family members. I believe you really need to give you and your family time to grieve, especially since you have other pets to think about. I've seen people who have lost a pet, and still had other pets, replace them too soon, causing many different problems.

With the age of one of your dogs, you have to think about his needs also. A new puppy could cause him undo stress and limit his time. A new kitten might not be as stressful as a puppy, but you know better how your pets are acting and if they could adjust to either one when the time is right.

When that day comes you could foster a pet from an animal shelter, with the stipulation that if your pets get along with the new addition, you would have the option to then adopt.

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My heart breaks for you; I can't imagine losing two so close together. So sorry for your loss, and yours as well, @panthiest.

Many wonderful suggestions here; I love the idea of planting a memorial tree or bush. And I agree with those who have suggested that giving a needy animal a loving home is a way to honor a beloved pet's memory (although of course, only when your heart is ready). I was always very moved (and somewhat comforted) by this, although others may find it cheesy:

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@caffeine_dude: I agree.
Talk about it, talk it out- just don't deny it. Accept it.

One of many reasons to have pets for kids. It may sound cold, but the loss of a pet fish, cat or dog better prepares them for later life, and they can handle the loss of the grandfolk a little easier.

Tho I did know an old man, with two dogs. George and Michael. He always had two dogs, and they were always named George and Michael. And he'd think you were funny headed if you thought he didn't know they were different dogs.

ANYway, give it time. Then pick up some fugly stray rescue critter.

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Many good suggestions here.

Communicate, don't suffer alone.

It's going to take time. I was not functional for two weeks when one of my kitties passed away from a heart failure (and he was only 8-year old).

Sorry for your loss. Time will heal the wound, and you should also treasure the wonderful memory you guys spent together. Animals are great, we also have four (2 kitties, 1 shiba inu and a parrot).

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I'm so sorry for your loss. A friend of mine lost her momma cat today and I can't think of any words to stop either of you from hurting. I'm not sure how it is for your family, but for me I just realize no matter how hard I hurt when losing a pet, it still beats the alternative of never having had the pleasure of sharing time with them. And with time, things do get easier.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss....

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it's an animal, buy a new one.

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I am so deeply sorry for your loss. And thank you so much for posting this question. I lost my oldest cat Barky last week, he was 14. He and the younger cat both caught some sort of virus, but it aggravated something as yet undetected (most likely cancer) and he was unable to recover. Thankfully the younger one is fine now. I have been struggling with the grieving process and how to even talk about it, for similar reasons I believe to you based on your second post.

I totally agree with others - TALK ABOUT IT! And as far as other pets, you will know when the time is right - don't rush it. I think I need to wait a little while longer than I initially thought. I'm more concerned about the younger cat than me, making sure he is complete with his grieving. He still is somewhat confused, but better now after a week.

I got this book to try and help, I haven't started working through it but it looks helpful:
http://www.amazon.com/How-ROAR-Loss-Grief-Recovery/dp/1411656539

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I'm so sorry for what you've been going through.

Talk about it with someone else who understands. I've lost a few pets, but I've never rushed out to get a new one. I always give myself time to grieve for the one that I've lost. My pets are like members of my family. Especially the one I have now, not sure what I'll do...I don't even like to think about it.

When the time comes to get another pet, I've always made sure to get one that is different than the one that just passed. That way I can create new memories, without confusing the old memories with my new pet. That way I can love my new one fully, and cherish my departed pet.

Hope all of these suggestions have helped in some small way, again sorry for your losses.

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Thanks so much for all of the kind responses. It seems that a lot of Wooters are animal lovers. Perhaps their next new site should be pets.woot.com.

It seems that I am not the only one dealing with the recent loss of a pet. My sympathies to all of you in similar situations. We opted not to bury Rascal in our yard. DH didn't have the heart to do it and I'm rather glad. The vet, who had recently lost his own Border Collie, called us personally to tell us how sorry he was. He and his staff sent a very nice personal card, and they packaged up Rascal's collar along with a plaster cast of her pawprint they had made for us. We can take that with us even if we move.

@heyjoie: That wasn't cheesy a bit. I loved it and passed it along to my family. I will be sure to save it to share with my other pet-loving friends.

We are grieving, and talking about Rascal and Buddy, and spoiling our other furbabies. Overall we are probably handling it pretty well, but it's tough. Thanks again, everyone.

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Though I don't get attached to animals, at all, like most people, I can sympathize, having family members that do. Since for some reason I'm a heartless monster when it comes to animals, I do my best to take care of all of the parts that would be too difficult for my family. Example: burying it in the back yard and setting up a little memorial.
I would recommend having them hurried somewhere, where you can visit their grave site, since they were a valued member of your family just like any other person. Even though I could never view them that way, I totally undertand and sympathize. I'm sorry for your loss, and hope that the void can be filled in another way. Though my family never tried to replace the animal, per se, they found joy in a new pet with a different personality entirely. I feel that helped the healing process immensely :)

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Thank you for posting this, as I've been struggling with the same question. Tomorrow will mark two weeks without my sweet canine buddy Chuck. I received a card with the following quote, which gave me some comfort:

A good dog never dies, he always stays
He walks besides you on crisp autumn days
When frost is on the fields and winter's drawing near,
His head is within our hand in his old way.
-- Mary Carolyn Davies

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I don't know what the answer is, but I am sorry to hear about your loss. :(

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The plaster casts of paw prints are fantastic. I'm so glad I got one for/of Monster. It really is lovely.

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@brandie346: I got one for my dog too as a sort of consolation prize from the pet hospital. I was a little sad to see that they marked its date of imprint as the same day she was admitted. :/