First, let’s define acceptance in the context of the five stages of grief.
From the website Grief.com, the fifth stage of grief, acceptance:
“Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this reality is now your new reality. You will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually, we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live.”
If you’re grieving or supportive of someone grieving the death of a pet, acceptance should not be an immediate goal to achieve. Putting pressure on yourself or anyone to accept it or get over it will prolong the process. If you or someone you care about is grieving, the most helpful thing is to allow it. Allow each stage to be what it is in the moment. Notice it, name it, and speak it out loud.
During grief, it is not uncommon for feelings to hit like a crashing wave. It can be typical for an emotion to bob around like a buoy in turbulent waters, for feelings to emerge like bubbles from the bottom of a calm sea. The trick is to take a moment to check in with yourself to find your emotional coordinates.
Modern life is hectic. The harried pace does not lend much time to check in with ourselves, let alone with others. Make it a habit to take care of yourself by becoming familiar with the five stages of grief so that you can periodically check in with what you’re feeling.
If you’re angry, admit it. If you’re depressed, acknowledge it. Encourage others to explore and name their feelings as well. Develop an emotional vocabulary, then use it.
Speak it out loud.
Once you acknowledge what you’re feeling, SPEAK IT OUT LOUD! I’m angry that my dog died. I’m lost without my cat. I’m sad my parrot is gone. I’m depressed since the death of my pet. Speak it out loud; it helps.
I’m not suggesting you start screaming what you’re feeling in public at the top of your voice. What I am suggesting is that you name your feeling, speak it out loud to yourself in the bathroom mirror, in the car, in your journal, to a friend, to your family. The point being, don’t ignore your grief. Notice it. Name it. Speak it. Accept it.
Grief from the loss of your pet is an emotional journey. Accepting your grieving is allowing yourself to go on such a journey without judgment. To grieve the unconditional love that has been lost. To reach an acceptance of a new reality of life now that your pet is gone.
At first, your journey through grief will be difficult, but if you press on, you’ll discover new things about yourself. You’ll develop additional coping skills for when times are tough. You’ll discover what your pet already knew about you. You’re stronger than you think and love never dies.
Wishing peace in your heart,