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Holidays Can Be Stressful for Those Who Recently Have Lost a Pet

Advice for coping from an Edmonds-based veterinarian.

For some, the holidays are a difficult time to deal with the  loss or illness of a much-loved family pet.

Facing a pet’s terminal illness and death is a very stressful and emotional time for families at the best of times, but during the holiday season it can be especially difficult to cope with.

The holiday season is a time for tradition and celebration, but for many families it can be a source of grief and sadness over the loss of a beloved pet.

Dr. Barry Rickman, founder of Edmonds-based Peaceful Companion, an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service, shares some of the ways to honor the loss of the family pet during the Holiday season:

  • Create an ornament with your pet’s picture.
  • Create a pet memorial stone or plant a tree in the garden.
  • A candle lighting can be celebrated along with a special poem, prayer, video, scripture reading or story.
  • Create or find a photo album of your pet.
  • If you have children, have them draw pictures or write stories of their beloved pet.
  • Make a donation to an animal shelter in memory of your pet.

 “Grieving is a process that takes time and there are no shortcuts,” says Rickman. "Some of the feelings include denial, sadness, and anger. These are normal feelings one can feel with the loss of a beloved pet.”

Family and friends can be a huge source of support during the holiday season.  Also, support groups and private counseling can be helpful. Check with the humane society, AHELP and other local pet support groups.

These resources can be found through internet support groups, veterinary schools and the ASPCA.

“This time can be used to face the loss of your pet, understand how it impacts your life and how you can find meaning in their loss," Rickman says. “If you are experiencing guilt and hopelessness over the loss of your pet, this is a sign of complicated bereavement and possible depression for which you should seek professional help from a physician or counselor.”

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