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The death of my animal

The death of a pet: "the emotional aspect".

Death is part of the cycle of life, just as mourning is part of death.  The Word "Mourning" is an old word which means "pain". To mourn therefore means: " going through pain ".

But on the death of a loved animal, mourning can be a different expereince for members of the same family. No two persons go through mourning in the same way.

Four emotions are generally linked to death: the shock linked to denial, anger linked to guilt, depression, acceptation. Everyone goes through some of these stages, in order or not, these stages can also overlap, a step backwards is always possible.

1. The Initial stage is characterized by a state of shock, denial, incredulity.

We don't want, or cannot accept this reality. We often hear sentences like: "it's impossible", "I don't... believe it", "no, not him". We continue living and acting as though nothing had taken place. This period is unstable: it lasts in general a few hours to a few days, usually not more than a week.

2. The stage of anger is an intense emotional state with: guilt, shame, irritability, anorexia, insomnia, feeling of emptiness, fatigue.

This anger can be turned against the veterinary, or against ourself, and we feel guilty. Aware of our responsibility, we can rack our brain by recalling imaginary negligence. If I had made «this or that thing, my animal would not have died...»

3. Grief and depression

At this stage, the pet owner feels a violent grief over the death of his animal. The length and intensity of this stage depend on the type of bond between them, of their length ("it was all that remained from my wife").

4. Acceptance

In due time, some owners, whose "mourning" evolves normally, begin feeling less anger, guilt and intense pain caused by the death of their animal. They can see objects which belonged to him or animals who resemble him without suffering from it too much.  They mourned, it is a sure sign that they accepted reality.   At this point, they have the capacity to love another animals, different from the one that they lost, and with a personality and characteristics of their own. It is, in fact, necessary that the stage of resolution is completed before deciding to adopt a new pet. This precaution will allow you to accept that your new companion is different from the one that you lost.

The death of a pet: "the practical aspect".

Before, when a pet died, is was traditionally accepted that he was buried under the apple tree in the back yard, with all the other family pets that came before him.  Today though, there are some laws in most municipalities that regulate how you can dispose of your pet's body, for public health reasons.  Please check with your local municipality office to get all the right information about what is permitted in your area.  Your municipality's office or your veterinarian might be able to put you in contact we cremation services for animals.  Certain crematoriums have adjoining pet cemeteries.  Another option consists in keeping the ashes at home in an urn.  The SPCA and other animal protecting organizations also offer a cremation service.  You will have to decide if you want your pet to have an individual or a group cremation.  This decision will depend on the amount of money you are willing to pay (a group cremation is less expensive) and your desire to have the ashes returned to you or not.  

You can explore the different products and services offered on the Internet, using a search engine.  Be careful, though, not to be pushed into spending more money than you want or to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.  It will be much easier if you plan ahead, before you are caught in an emotional spiral.