Saying goodbye to your pet is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Unfortunately, it's something most owners have dealt with at least once while spending their lives with a four-legged friend by their side. It's never easy to let go of those who have become as much a part of the family as any of the humans. If you're looking to find ways to honor them and at the same time try to soothe the pain, there are some things your pet wants you to know and it may provide some comfort.
It’s easy to think that you will be able to cope with your pet's departure, but you may find out that the loss of an animal is just as devastating as any death, and even though humans know intellectually that they’ll have to go through all that eventually, it doesn’t make it any easier to face the reality - realizing what your friend really would've wanted you to mentalize right now is then vital.
First of all, your pet wants you to know that as hard as it is, there is nothing more you could have done and there wasn’t some choice that could have been made differently that would result in them still being here today. You haven't made the wrong decision by letting him go, and they know you'd never miss a sign that they were in pain. Our pets don’t judge us for our choices, but they definitely appreciate our sacrifices.
It’s normal to look back after losing a pet and wish that you’d spent more time showing them how much they were loved. It may feel like you worked too much or skipped daily walks from time to time. Guilt is a normal emotion to experience as you’re processing your loss and grief, but do not let yourself be taken aback by how strongly you blame yourself, that couldn't be further from how highly your friend thought of you.
Pets understand a lot more than we give them credit for. When we are upset, they can feel it. They seem to know what we need, whether it’s a licky cuddle or just to feel their presence by our side. After they pass away, it’s these moments when their absence hurts the most, and they can still feel you're suffering. They want you to know you have been the most loving and caring pet owner for their whole life, and for that, you deserve to be happy again.
Death is merely the final destination for all the living, and pets are sometimes smarter than humans when it comes to the end of their life - they want us to accept this fact as hard as it may be for us to do so. Whether they pass quietly in our arms of old age or are taken too soon, they appreciate every moment and would hate to think that we feel any guilt or regret about our time together. Your pet wants to know that how they went doesn't really matter - their entrance into the afterlife was perfectly peaceful.
Your pet wants you to know they lived a very happy life by your side, always be cherished and taken care of. Do believe they're aware you did everything in your power to keep them safe and well. This was their time to pass, and they could understand this before anyone, even you. Keep the good moments you both lived in your heart and memory, and begin to remember them as they were - someone that deeply loved you.
Your pet wants you to know the pain is not forever. Try thinking of grief as luggage: some days it’s the size of a little pouch while others it’s as big as a full suitcase. Sometimes it's just like being at the airport in front of the arrivals carousel, waiting for the form your luggage will manifest. You never know if you're going to tear up and fall apart, or if maybe today is a carry-on kind of day where you just take your pain along with you and keep going. In any event, you need to be sure your luggage always arrives and never gets lost.
Eventually, as the weeks and months pass, you’ll find yourself healing. You’ll never stop loving and missing your friend, but you’ll know that he is in a better place now. He loved you dearly, and we bet he wouldn’t have changed one second of the life the two of you had together. Most important of all, you will know that while he was here with you, you gave him the best life ever. No matter what you believe about the soul or the afterlife, nothing can truly die if it lives on in the memories of others.
Knowing the depth of that love can help us find the strength to move forward: as you grieve your loss, consider what you can do to honor the memory of your pet. There are ways to commemorate and honor our best friends. You could put his most endearing picture in a beautiful portrait, stamp it on a mug or even carry it with you. Above all, it’s important to remember them for who they were and the endless joy and love they brought to our lives.