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Coping With Pet Loss

WebMD explains how to survive the painful grieving process after losing one of your closest companions.

What to Do? continued...

The question of how to grieve is intensely personal, but in general, it's important to feel free to express your emotions and memories.

For example, Sife suggests keeping a log of your thoughts and feelings. Online chat rooms and message boards, and offline support groups and hotlines linked to humane societies, are also sources of support.

For those experiencing severe grief, Sife suggests writing a letter to yourself, taking on your pet's persona. "Observe how you are reacting to the loss, and ask yourself if your pet would want you to continue this way. We all know pets would want the best for us, because that's what love is about."

Children and Pet Death

For children, the loss of a pet may be their first exposure to death. It may be much more affecting than the loss of an aunt or grandparent whom they rarely see, Pomerance says. A pet's loss is a key moment for teaching children about the value of life. So give the child space to mourn, says Pomerance, who has written a book to help children cope with the loss of a pet.

Pomerance suggests helping the child make a scrapbook or journal about the animal. If the child seems puzzled by the concept of death, she says parents can compare the cycle of life and death to the natural cycle of the seasons.

Above all, never try to dismiss the child's loss, or to foist another animal on the child too soon. "The main thing is to be empathetic and supportive," Pomerance says.

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Reviewed on March 02, 2011

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