Thursday, March 11, 2010


Closure. One of the definitions of closure listed on is: Psychology. A sense of psychological certainty or completeness: a need for closure. I'm realizing that definitions in dictionaries are just a bunch of words describing one word. Dictionaries can't describe a pet owner's need for closure or how important closure is for a pet owner or what closure means to an owner who has just lost a pet. And, the dictionary can't help an owner find closure.

During my interview with pet loss and bereavement counselor Teresa Freeman I asked her about finding closure after death. I also asked her for a list of suggestions to help pet owners move through their grief.

FFF: What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to find closure after a pet’s death?

Teresa Freeman: Our culture doesn’t do a very good job of providing rituals for pet loss. The rituals which surround death have evolved in part to allow for an emotional safety net as we experience grief but because society doesn’t really acknowledge the loss of a pet the same way, sometimes we have to create it and be more intentional about it. Also know that it won’t naturally be provided and not to have unrealistic expectations in this area.

Another topic that frequently comes up is how to remember the pet to complete closure for the loss. There are many ways to go about achieving this. Much of it depends on the individual and what feels right. Sometimes memorials are helpful, volunteering or making scrapbooks work for many. The important thing is to find something that fits your life and personality and create something long-lasting that honors your lost pet.

FFF: What suggestions can you give to help a pet owner move through their grief?

Teresa Freeman: Let your feelings out! If you suppress your feelings, it will only delay the healing process.

Write a letter from your pet to yourself and keep this as a permanent memory.

Dedicate something in your pet’s name and memory.

Make a donation in your pet’s memory.

Make a list of all the loving memories you have of your pet and share this list with family members.

Make an audio recording of yourself reading these memories and saying whatever emotions you feel.

Listen to this recording during your mourning and keep it as a personal memorial to your pet.

Establish new routines. Change or vary old ones. Avoid begin left alone too often.

Treat yourself to things you enjoy.

Avoid keeping visual reminders of your grief.

Get rid of your pet’s toys by putting them in a box and storing them away – for now.

Talk to your veterinarian about any questions you may have about the death of your pet. This helps to clear up any doubts or guilt about the death.

Understand and respect your own mourning. If your grief is intense, take time off from work.

Hold some kind of memorial service for your pet.

Keep a daily journal and list your thoughts and feelings.

Attend a support group.

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