The initial loss of a beloved pet often seems surreal and unbearable. We are at a loss for how to continue our lives without our best friend, fur-baby, confidante, and so much more. We seek support and comfort and do our best to live fully as a way of honoring our dear one. Then the time approaches for the “first anniversary” of a birthday, an adoption day, a holiday, any special day we may have celebrated together and the day he/she passed away. A year of “firsts” awaits us, and we shudder to think of how we will survive.
We’d like to give you some helpful tips as to how to make it through this year and all those to come. In light of having to acknowledge that you have had to create a “new normal” without your beloved pet, give yourself some pats on the back for carrying on with your life in honor of him/her. It is what our pets want for us. Remind yourself of the things you have accomplished despite your grief. Be kind to yourself about times your struggle left you unable to move forward. All of these experiences have been part of your healing journey.
Know that the days before and after an anniversary can also leave you shaken and filled with memories; some may be traumatic ones that leave you emotionally drained. We recommend spending some time before the anniversary date planning ahead. Think about where and with whom you would like to be. Think of the best way to honor the love you shared with your beloved pet. Planning ahead can often help ease some of the intensity of that day. Surround yourself with loving support or take some time alone. Do whatever is best for you.
There are many things you can do to celebrate and memorialize your beloved fur-baby on these special occasions. Some are:
1. Reminisce and share stories with others who loved him/her.
2. Start a new ritual/tradition and let it evolve over the years.
3. Plan a memorial service; invite others to attend and either tell a story or read a poem.
4. Release a balloon with a message on it and send it up to land in your babies lap in
5. Light a candle or a virtual candle on www.gratefulness.org .
6. Write a letter to your pet; compose a poem or song; draw a picture; create
a photo album/scrapbook.
7. Journal your feelings; write a list of your special memories.
8. Plant a tree or special flower.
9. Join a Pet Loss Support Chat Room at www.aplb.org or find a local support group, and
share your feelings with kindred spirits.
Remember that you’re not alone! We all experience this “anniversary reaction” and can draw support from others who have gone before us. The anticipation of the anniversary date can be heightened if we are left alone to imagine the worst. Be gentle with yourself. Take care of yourself. If you are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy you will be better prepared for the emotions this day might bring and can navigate it in a better way than you might ever have imagined.
Have you gone through any first anniversaries yet? Was there something you could share that helped you? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Know that we are always here to support you!