For many of us, pets are more than just animals. They are part of our family in every real way. They play with us, connect us to the natural world, give us unconditional love, and never think twice about whether or not they’re on our side. When a pet dies, everyone grieves, but knowing in advance how to deal with the passing makes it a bit easier.

Make the end of life about your pet

As the end approaches, it’s natural for us to want to spend every moment we can with our pet. For our pets, however, this can be a difficult and traumatic time. They can sense our distress, but we cannot explain to them what’s happening, why they’re spending more and more time at the vet, or why their bodies are deteriorating.

In a time like this, it’s important to think about their needs over our own. Watch out for signs of pain and distress in your pet. Animals have a natural instinct to hide their pain because, in the wild, the weakest members of a pack are vulnerable. Instead of whimpering, your pet may pant, hide away, or stop eating.

When it’s time to let your pet go, consult with a your vet about the best way to go about it. You might want to have the vet meet you at home and put your pet down gently there. Or, it may be more convenient to go to the animal hospital and have it done. Just make sure you have your pet’s best interests in mind.

Dealing with the body

Most municipalities will require you to deal with a dead animal body fairly quickly. There are a number of options open to you, but choosing the right one will make things easier for your whole family and leave you with no regrets.

Some places still allow you to bury a dead pet on your property, but in many places this is illegal. Even if it is not illegal in your state, it’s not always the best option. A dead body can attract wild animals you don’t want around your home, and disease is always an issue when you dispose of a body.

In recent years many people have turned to pet cremation, but the newest innovation is aquamation, offered by innovators such as VIP Aquamation. Aquamation is a form of cremation that uses alkaline water to speed up the natural decomposition of the body. This method creates no bio-hazard and no carbon emissions. It is completely environmentally friendly and leaves you with more remains for your memorial.

Getting closure

Once you have your pet’s remains, it’s important to find a way to get closure for yourself and your family. You’ve thought about your pet and honored your animals’ love. You’ve dealt with the body in a respectful and eco-friendly way. Now it’s time to concentrate on the emotional needs of those left behind.

Grief can take many forms, and different members of the family may wish to remember their pet in different ways. Some people want to get another pet soon after; some prefer to wait a long time. Some people may feel anger, and it’s common to suffer a feeling of guilt, worrying that there was something more you could have done.

Give everyone time and space to heal. Acknowledge the grief and express it. Reach out to others. Consider writing about your feelings and encouraging your children to express their feelings in a poem or drawing. Help everyone to grieve together by preparing a fitting memorial for your pet.

The loss of a pet is hard on everyone, but having our pets in our lives is worth the grief that we experience. Plan now for how you will honor your pet, our world, and yourself when your pet passes and you’ll better able to cope when the time comes.

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