Grieving Your Dog in Spring

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Springtime.

It is a time when the chill of winter fades away and flowers begin to bloom in colors of pink, violet, and yellow.

The dreary, muted colors and feelings of white and gray fade away as plants begin to sprout. 

Spring is a time of new life. 

It brings emotions of warmth and excitement with the anticipation of something new.

In the midst of this season of new, losing a dog can be difficult. 

Spring is supposed to bring new life; not take it away.

If the grass can grow and the birds can come back to sing again, why is my dog taken away?

The reality of losing a dog, especially during springtime, is that it is weird. 

The sun, which has been hidden behind the clouds all winter, suddenly comes out when it feels as though it should stay hidden behind the clouds. It feels as though the world should stay dark because your world is darker without your furry friend. 

Whether the death of your dog was expected or unexpected, you sit and think you should not be as sad as you currently are because the reality is you lost an animal and not a human life. You feel strange for experiencing emotions of grief with great intensity because the relationship you lost was not with a human being.

So how do you cope?

With grieving, there is no first thing you should do because grieving is not linear. There is not a first way you should begin coping and there is not a next. These are simply suggestions to possibly carry out at some point after your dog has passed away, whether it be right after they are gone, or a few days. Keep in mind, this is not a comprehensive list, or actual advice from a mental health professional. These are simply tips from a dog owner who has been through the grieving process after losing her childhood dog.

One way to recognize the beginning of the grieving process is give yourself permission to feel every emotion you need. Allow yourself to feel sad, lonely, mopey, angry, and nostalgic.Realize your emotions will fluctuate for the next few days, if not for the next few weeks because a big relationship in your life is now gone. 

Give yourself time alone to process your emotions once you recognize what exactly you are feeling. Write out your feelings and emotions in a journal, go for a walk, or go for a drive. Maybe draw a picture of your dog or write down some of your favorite memories together. Make sure to process your feelings in a healthy and productive way and not by unhealthy or unproductive methods. Also, make sure to realize there is a difference between taking time to be alone and isolating yourself from others. Taking time to be alone is important, but isolating yourself from reality is not a healthy way to grieve. 

Once you have processed your emotions, make sure to set aside time for self care, in whatever capacity that looks like for you. Again, ensure these are healthy methods of self care and not destructive ones. 

As this list of suggestions seems short, realize these three suggestions will take a great amount of time and energy because losing a dog is sad and energy draining. 

Grieving your dog is often an unexpected and strange journey. 

Springtime breeds new life and yet, your dog is taken away from you.  

When in doubt of your grieving process, remember: grieving is not linear.

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