Grieving a Pet’s Death

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I lost my dog about 3weeks ago she got hit by a car, she was the world to me. I suffer from depression and have always seen my life as pointless and having my dog gave me a reason to live. My dog and i were always together, when ever i was sad or upset she would cheer me up, she made getting out of bed worth it.Now that shes gone i find that everything reminds me of her because she was that big of a part of my life. There is not a sec that goes by that i dont miss her i feel like i miss her more every day. The worst part is the nightmares every night i dream about her dead over and over again and on some night i dream that my dog is crying out for me but no matter how hard i try to get to her i can’t. I feel horrible i dont know what to do i feel lost.

A. I know this may sound counterintuitive and perhaps sacreligious but I would recommend adopting a new dog. Adopting a new dog does not mean that you would be replacing your old dog. No dog could replace the one that you just lost. Adopting a new dog gives you the opportunity to rescue an animal that doesn’t have a home. There are millions of animals just waiting to be adopted and to be given a loving home. They are waiting for your love.

There’s an expression that may be appropriate here: “when one door closes another opens.” Reframing the situation may help to improve it. The loss of your dog may connect you with a new pet who is needing and deserving of your love.

A client recently lost her beloved cat. She and her husband rescued the cat who was living on the side of a four-lane highway. They described their new cat as being their favorite. They had many cats in the past but this one was particularly special. Unfortunately, she died after approximately a year. They were devastated. After a few days, they adopted a new kitten. In part, the adoption was motivated by an attempt to fill the void of their recent loss. At first, they felt guilty about replacing their beloved cat so quickly. That guilt quickly diminished after experiencing the joy of having rescued a homeless kitten. They now view the loss of their beloved cat as having “opened the door” to their new kitten. Metaphorically speaking, their deceased cat “gave birth” to their new kitten. You have the opportunity to save another dog.

I wish you the best luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Grieving a Pet’s Death. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/02/29/grieving-a-pets-death/