How to Say Goodbye to a Pet
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When a pet becomes part of the family, the loss can be devastating. Say goodbye to your animal friend with some memorable farewells that will provide comfort.
Step 1: Put them to sleep
Consider putting your pet to sleep when they are having trouble getting around, their quality of life is deteriorating, and prolonging the inevitable is causing undue pain. Be unselfish and comfort them all you can, but put their best interests first.
If you are arranging to have the animal put to sleep, consider making a clay imprint of a paw for remembrance.
Step 2: Stay with the pet to the last
Schedule with a trusted vet to perform the procedure. Join your buddy for the last moments as a loving way to calm their fear and complete your life together. Normally the vet will leave you alone to say goodbye afterward.
Step 3: Hold a ceremony
Wrap the animal in a blanket if the animal has already passed, and put it in a garbage bag to prevent decomposition. Before burying, let the family members see them one more time. Share a respectful silence together in a small ceremony, if it makes everyone feel better.
Step 4: Expect grief, resist guilt
Expect to grieve and at first suffer denial. Forgive yourself for not spending enough time with the pet, and resist wallowing in guilt for something you imagine caused the pet's sickness or pain.
Step 5: Talk to those who can relate
Resist feeling silly or nuts for being attached to an animal. Open up to friends who can relate, your vet, or the local humane society. Get support like you would for any passing.
Step 6: Explain to the kids
Explain to the children that the pet had to be saved from their pain, and mourn with your family. This may be their first lesson about death. Let them make their own memorial to the pet and mourn their own way.
Step 7: Create a ritual
Create a ritual to remember your pet as a way of saying goodbye: plant a tree or flowering plant, light a candle, of scatter remains in a special place. Hang up pictures to have them around.
Step 8: Make a donation
Say goodbye by making a donation to animal health causes, rescue societies, or welfare programs as a final tribute.
Did You Know?
Aspin Hill Memorial Park in Maryland, one of the most famous American pet cemeteries, holds over 40,000 pets, including Petey, the Little Rascals Dog.