Losing a Pet After 60 is Especially Hard. Here’s How to Recover
As a woman over 60, having a pet in your life can give you boundless love and happiness. You probably don’t need anyone telling you that the love you have for your pet is amazing.
Yet, you can be devastated when you learn they have a terminal illness or have reached the end of their life. And, as a woman over 60, you may experience certain expectations about how you should feel and maneuver your grief.
I am here to share how to let your grief happen!
Who Experiences Pet Loss Grief?
Everyone who loves their pet experiences grief in their unique way. We can’t avoid it. It is a natural emotion to experience. Whether your loss was recent or a long time ago, or if you have a pet that’s dying, your heart may be split open, and you may feel uncomfortable with what you are feeling.
In fact, your emotions may be creating chaos in your life – you may be feeling extreme anxiety or even depression. You may be unsure of what to do next. Expectations that you shouldn’t have these feelings can be challenging.
Keep in mind that what you are going through is normal. If you are feeling lonely or hopeless because you don’t know who to talk to, how to get help or who to get help from – you are not alone.
What Is Pet Loss Grief?
Right now, everything is different and new for you. Your pet is either very sick or no longer physically with you. This can give you some very uncomfortable feelings that you may not be aware of or feel comfortable with.
If your blood is starting to boil because you are so angry that your best friend died, or if you are feeling guilty, depressed, numb, or even shock – you are experiencing normal pet loss grief.
Being a woman over 60 dealing with pet loss grief can be a harsh ride. You may feel incredibly alone or misunderstood. Family, friends and even strangers may say some very unsupportive things to you. You may even feel like you shouldn’t feel the way you do because you will be perceived as crazy.
Keep in mind that your experience is valid. It can also be very healing and profound by changing how you view your own mortality and how you want to live your life. One thing that I talk about in my books is that once you understand what normal grief is, your journey will become different – and more manageable.
When you learn as much as you can about your feelings and emotions, the journey can be more enriching. Instead of feeling misunderstood, old or unsupported, your heart will be filled with love and compassion for yourself and your pet.
Where Does Pet Loss Grief Happen?
Grief is a rollercoaster ride, and we can’t avoid it. Normal grief is varied and expansive. Pet loss grief is no different. It can have a life of its own and can happen anywhere.
You can be going through a quiet period of your daily life journey when you are feeling relatively good. Then something happens, and it triggers intense, and perhaps unexpected, feelings of pet loss grief. I encourage you to let this happen. Let yourself feel what you are going through no matter where you are.
Many of my clients say in their support sessions, “What drives me crazy about my grief is that it has a great talent of surprising me when I least expect it. And just because I am 65 doesn’t mean I am weird to express what I am feeling… right?”
I tell them that it is better to actively acknowledge, process and experience your feelings than to stuff grief down only for it to pop up at unexpected times and in unwelcoming forms.
Why Is Losing a Pet So Painful?
We are our pets’ caretakers from the moment they set their paws, feathers or scales into our homes. They are our family. The human-animal bond is different than what we have with our friends and other family members.
Even though we love our friends and family members and they love us – who loves us unconditionally? Our pets do!
Our pets are not “just dogs” or “just cats.” They are special companions that shower us with 100% unconditional love. They bring a unique relationship to our lives that provide a sense of meaning and purpose.
How Does Pet Loss Grief Affect Your Life?
The changes you may be experiencing, and your feelings of being lost without your companion can have a tremendous impact on the way you are moving through life. There is no denying that losing a pet is tough!
To soothe your soul, keep in mind that your bond with your beloved pet was not shared by anyone else. It was entirely exclusive and exceptional to the two of you. Therefore, what you experience is going to reflect your personality, your pet’s personality and all the things you shared together.
Your life purpose and the journey will not end. Instead, you will gain some incredible insight about how your life has been enriched and soulfully balanced because of the love you shared with your pet.
Appreciating your experience is just part of your passage to healing your heart from pet loss. Learning and finding support is another.
Have you ever had to deal with losing a pet? How did you deal with your feelings? How has your pet impacted your life and heart? Please share your answers and comments below.
Wendy Van de Poll is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support and the human-animal bond. As a bestselling author, speaker and coach, she has passionately devoted her life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people. Wendy has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. Please visit her website.