Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and other important events in our lives often become more difficult when that special someone we used to celebrate them with is no longer with us. And for many people, including myself, it’s that pet that shared those milestones with us by representing that unconditional love that supported and uplifted us at all times. And for some, a furry friend is their only family, so the loss can be significantly more intense.
Since 2015, when I lost my soul dog Angel and my world crashed around me, I have made it my mission to help other pet parents struggling with grief. And for almost two years, I have run a monthly free support group available to anyone who needs a safe non judgmental environment and gentle guidance in the journey. It has truly been a blessing to share such intimate and heartfelt moments with strangers, many who have gone on to become great friends.
As the winter holidays are quickly approaching, let’s rejoice and celebrate the glory and joy your pet brought to you. The beautiful memories you shared, the special places you went, call for a celebration of their life.
So what can you do to honor their memory? There are many fun and creative ways to do so:
- Create a festive keepsake chest and write sweet little notes to your pet about how you miss them, recap a heartwarming holiday memory and express your true feelings.
- Take a holiday wreath and decorate it with pictures of your pet, hearts, bows and ribbons. Hang it where it gives you comfort. Hang it in your special place.
- Make a playlist with holiday songs that reminds of times you shared and the evenings spent cuddled up in the couch. Play it softly in the background when you are home.
- Decorate plain white candles with little paw prints, their names and anything else that represents your unique relationship. Burn the candles for a little bit every night and make it a point to only think of a happy memory.
- Invite friends and family to a Celebration of Life holiday dinner or lunch. Ask them to tell their own fun stories and memories of how they remember your beloved pet. Go around the table and be open to the love and support from others. And if your circle is small, keep it quaint and intimate.
- Get a creative scrapbook going. Go through all the pictures you have on your phone and computer and even print pictures of places where you went together. Write little poems or notes about those specific times and add it to the pages. It will be a journey you can always return to and remember fondly.
- If you attend any holiday celebrations at church or similar, regardless of your spiritual faith, bring a photo or something that reminds you of your pet, keep that close to your heart and light a candle in their memory.
- Spend some time at your local animal shelter with all of those fur babies that are still waiting for their forever homes. Enrich your holiday and theirs by sharing some precious moments together.
Don’t be afraid to feel during this holiday season. Our goal as pet parents is to convert immobilizing pain into a precious memory. It doesn’t mean that our intense love is diminished for our pet. Instead we are discovering a new dimension, making us better and wiser people.
We owe it to them and ourselves to heal and grow again. Our improved and ongoing existence is the ultimate testimony to that unconditional love. You will never “get over” a loss, things will never be the same as they once were, they will always be different. But if your pet could speak to you right now, they would want nothing but the best for you…