The Five Stages of the Grief Process:
Our grief process is as individual as our lives are diverse and so the Five Stages information is offered as a tool to help you identify and negotiate the, often bumpy path of physical and emotional loss.
We hope the below information will be helpful:
- Denial – Denial can often help us pace our feelings of grief. The grace of denial is that it offers us the needed time and space to cushion the blow of a sudden or unexpected loss of a pet.
- Anger– Anger is a form of pain and can give structure to the emptiness of loss. It is often an indication of the intensity of your love for a pet. As with human death, people sometimes feel angry in feeling that the timing of a pet’s accident or illness is unfair if not intolerable. With time, most people manage to bridge the sea of anger over their loss as they move closer to acceptance of their pet’s death.
- Bargaining/Guilt – After death bargaining often takes the form of the “If only…” or “What if …” thoughts and statements. It can also take the form of a temporary truce such as “If I promise to devote my life to saving other animals, I’ll wake up tomorrow and this won’t feel so bad.” Bargaining sometimes buys us the time we need to adjust to a harsh reality when we can’t change an outcome. It is a way of negotiating our way out of the heartbreaking pain that we feel.
- Depression – Depression is a feeling that can often come after bargaining or guilt. It moves us squarely into the present where the inevitable reality of our loss surfaces. Just as grief is a process of healing, (temporary) depression is a natural and warranted response in that process.
- Acceptance – The process of acceptance comes with having more good days than bad. It is not about being “all right” with what has happened but rather the recognition that the new reality is permanent. It is about knowing that while we can never replace the pet we have lost, we can reach out, make new connections and embrace new opportunities to love other animals … or for that matter, to turn our attention to other furry members of our household who may be waiting in the wing of our despair.
The emotional toll of losing a pet can be substantial. For those whose pets have seen them through childhood milestones or even adult traumas, the bond, and subsequent grief, can run especially deep. And yet the significance of that loss can sometimes go unrecognized or unacknowledged by our peers, our friends and sometimes even our family. For this reason many feel that their grief is unwarranted or that they should minimize the significance of their loss.
Sometimes just recognizing an emotion as normal can help people to work through the grief process. If your grief feels too intense or too overwhelming, there are resources to help such as Internet articles, grief counseling hotlines, private grief counseling as well as family and friends who may be willing to help you on your way to emotional health.
At Annie’s Healing Hearts, our goal is to reduce your stress and make the process as smooth as possible to ease your grief. We maintain relationships with a number of organizations that can aid in your difficult time.
Please feel free to contact us at 541-408-6925
Hospice of Redmond / Sisters
732 SW 23rd St
Redmond, OR 97756
Here are a couple of books that have found a special place in our hearts:
The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog
by Eugene O’Neill and Adrienne Yorinks
Blessing the Bridge
by Rita M. Reynolds and Gary Kowalski