Anyone who has lost a beloved pet knows how devastating it can be. Some say they have never felt that kind of pain before. Others are stunned by the intense loneliness that ensues. Others never realized how unique, special, and significant the relationship with their pet was – until they’re gone.
Many of the members of our caring staff at Krause Funeral Home know this pain firsthand. Even though we work every day with families in Milwaukee, Brookfield, and New Berlin who have experienced loss, the grief that comes when a pet passes away is its own experience. Study after study reflects the importance of this relationship. Consider this: Playing with our pets can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and help our body’s chemical responses during time of stress. Pets give us opportunities for exercise, going outdoors, and socializing. They help us stay calm and relaxed, happier, and more affectionate. For these and other reasons, we even have a dedicated therapy dog named Bennie on staff, who is on hand to help families relax and to ease their pain.
It’s no wonder the pain can be so sharp when pets are suddenly not part of our lives anymore!
One question often asked in the days and weeks after a pet passes away is this: How soon can I get another pet? This is especially a consideration when there are children in the home. Here are a few questions to think about before welcoming a new animal friend into your family:
Have I properly grieved the loss of my pet? You might be tempted to bring another pet home right away to help you feel better, but it’s best to spend some time thinking and grieving first. Everyone experiences grief differently, but working through the pain is essential. You might cry, talk to family and friends, or conduct a memorial service. Paying tribute to your much-loved family member will help you share your love with a new animal companion when the time is right.
Am I ready to welcome a pet who might be very different from the one I lost? Remember that a new pet is not a replacement, and will likely have an entirely different personality. We’ve heard stories about people who quickly bring new pets home, only to feel angry and even resentful when the new animal is nothing like the one they lost. Are you prepared for this possibility? Are you open to a new relationship, as opposed to trying to recreate what you once had? For some people, this might take days or weeks; for others, months or years. Only you can know when you feel ready.
Is everyone else – both human and animal – in my household ready for a new pet? When thinking of a timeline for welcoming a new pet, it’s important to remember the feelings, wants, and needs of your loved ones. This is especially crucial with children, as they often build strong attachments to pets and have a grieving process that may differ from your own. Sharing open conversations about what kind of pet you’d like and the ideal time to bring it home will help ease the transition and make the new relationship that much more rewarding for all of you.