The mission of Ontario Pet Loss Support Group is to provide people who are struggling with the death of a beloved companion animal with somewhere to turn to for support: to educate the general public about the depth and importance of the human/companion animal bond and the grief process, as well as to establish other similar support groups.
The loss of a pet is traumatic event. Many people do not realize how important they can be to us and can not understand the pain we feel when they die. We invite you to join our group and connect with others who have been touched forever by the love of a precious pet, a beloved family member.
If you are…
…then the Ontario Pet Loss Support Group can help you. Losing your companion animal can be an extremely difficult and painful experience. We offer caring, compassionate understanding of your loss, through phone support, meetings and Facebook.
Many people suffer alone when they lose a pet or faced with making euthanasia decisions. They feel alienated because others don’t understand. The Ontario Pet Loss Support Group provides a safe, comfortable environment where we offer support and coping mechanisms in dealing with grief.
Our monthly meetings – a place where people can share their stories, losses and feelings of grief, in a caring, non-judgmental and supportive environment.
We do encourage people to share their stories and pet photos, but do not force those who are not yet able to share. Some people benefit just by listening to others talk and realize that they are not alone. No two circumstances are the same, no two animals are the same, but people find solace in knowing that there are others who can truly understand the pain.
We offer sympathy – not pity – we are able to help by acknowledging that we don’t “get over” the loss in a week or two. If the loss is deep enough, some will spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out how to live with it. That doesn’t mean they will never be joyful and happy again. It means that they live with the knowing that their lives will never be the same again.
We provide genuine compassion, since we are all pet lovers and have shared the same experiences.
Non-pet owners, who haven't experienced the love and the connection of a human-animal bond, do not understand and can not appreciate the feelings that arise from the loss of a pet. They are unable to share the same emotions or have difficulty in understanding why we are unable to “get over” our loss, as one would with a human loss.
By participating, it demonstrates a valuable experience, a gift to help others and the knowing that we are all human and share the same compassion for our pets.
Suggestions that help
One important aspect that we encourage is to TALK. This is the most helpful way to begin the healing process. Keeping your feelings bottled up can only make your pain last longer. By offering phone support, as well as our monthly meetings, people are able to openly express their feelings with those who are compassionate and understand. This enables them to accept the loss and be on the road to a “normal” life quicker.
To recognize that you were very close to your pet and to give yourself permission to grieve. Some feel comfortable in placing a memorial plaque, planting a tree, or creating a memorial keepsake. This allows the person to pay tribute to the pet that has meant so much. It is also a way of honoring their pet’s life and helps them to adjust to life without them. The activity can help to fill the emptiness and it allows the opportunity to express their deep feelings of affection and sadness of their loss. Some find solitude in writing a poem or creating a picture book. We encourage each one to do what feels most comfortable to them.
Getting the proper rest, eating well and continuing daily exercise – to not break the usual routine within the household. Especially to those who still have other pets at home. This for most can be challenging, since suddenly the realization that you are only walking one dog opposed to two, or your cat suddenly acts differently because their buddy isn’t there. This is time that is also important to help your living pets adjust to a new routine without their siblings. The surviving pets are confused and will also feel the loss of their companions. In trying not to break the “regular” routine, will also help in getting your surviving pet to adjust. Take the grieving dog on more outings. Outings will deepen the dogs bond to you and make the dog’s life more interesting. Creating rituals that the dog can look forward to daily ie: ball catching, rubdown/brushing, etc.
Helping your dog adjust to this loss will help you at the same time. Realize that without the other canine pack member, your dog's position in life has now changed. You may now have a former leader dog without a follower. Or you may have a former follower dog without a canine leader. You will need to help your dog find the way to a healthy new position in the social order.
Cats sense when there has been a loss. A household with multiple cats, even if the cats were not best of friends, suddenly feel the change in hierarchy. Cats seem to be very much in tune with human emotions. Cats can go through a personality change when a loss is felt. They try to divert the human’s attention as a way to “take the pain away.”
To surround yourself with positive friends who understand your loss and to seek out support groups.
To be patient, and try to do pleasurable activities.
At times you may have relapse of sadness and grief, and to understand that it is okay.
We tell our members that grief is different to everyone. That the duration and intensity of your grief will be unique to you.
Recognize the stages of grief
It is common to be in a state of shock. To feel dazed and stunned is a normal reaction.