Learning to Live with the Loss of a Beloved Pet

Learning to Live with the Loss of a Beloved Pet

By Ipshita Raman

Time is relentless and uninterruptible. Thus, life is ephemeral and loss is inevitable. Everything has its time in the sun before its imminent conclusion. The bell tolls for everyone. It is a natural significator of a life lived and is the ultimate equalizer. And though it is unpreventable, its arrival signals in growth.

The experience of loss opens us up to hidden knowledge, and helps us navigate this world with new-found empathy, grace and acceptance. It is the storm before the calm. And a life without loss would be akin to living in a state of limbo, where we would remain completely oblivious to our own inherent abilities to handle indefinable and immeasurable obstacles that life deals us.

Losing a Pet is No Less Intense an Experience

Loss can take shape in many forms, the demise of a loved one is one among them. Whether it is of a parent, a friend or our furry companion, the unfathomable agony it brings with it, remains undeterred. Losing a pet is as formative an experience as losing another member of our family. It is particularly crucial to emphasize this because of man’s erratic history with animals.

The world, in its ignorance, has had, and often continues to have, a natural proclivity to undervalue the life of these sentient beings and diminish their importance. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to steer clear of this falsehood and not let it sway us into thinking that our pets are somehow less than and their loss less important.

The Lifelong Memories We Create Together

The truth is that from the moment we walk into each other's lives, we are transformed. Our pets are transformed through the sacrifices they make to come live with us, and we are transformed through their presence in our lives. And with each new step we take together, we begin to create memories that last a lifetime. From our very first encounter and our ride back home together.

The first time they step into the house and adjust to their surroundings. Their first night, bath, walk in the park, visit to the vet, birthday and the first of many times we cuddle together. These are priceless moments in time. Even the innumerable embarrassing situations they put us through that constantly test our patience have a special place in our hearts. No amount of chewed up toys, shoes, and in some cases furniture, could ever stop us from going back and reliving it all if given the chance.

No Quick Fixes to Overcome Grief

Grieving the loss of a beloved pet is a process that takes time. Adults themselves struggle to keep their heads above water during the course of that period. So, it would be quite unimaginable what a child goes through when they lose their best friend. One cannot expect a child to “get over it quickly” (as many would have them believe). In fact, it should be made clear to them that one never really does get over it.

The film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind presents a pretty good example of how there are no quick fixes when it comes to loss and grief. The only way forward is to accept reality and carry forth the incredible memories we were lucky to have created with a loved one. Everybody wants their children to grow up and be independent and be their own hero, and for this it is imperative that we are honest with them right from the beginning.

A New Chink in Our Armour

Life throws multiple curveballs our way as we progress, and there is nothing it can deal us that we cannot handle. Every traumatic experience is akin to a new chink in our armour that we need in order to grow and become a more complex human being. Each challenge readies us for the next one. And like the phoenix, we rise again from the ashes.

If you are looking for a storybook to help talk to your child about the loss of a loved one, browse "The Land Beyond the Moon" by Merlinwand.

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