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Facing the Holidays after Losing a Pet

Buffalo Grove's Veterinary Specialty Center offers some advice for grieving pet owners.

Facing the holiday season after the loss of a pet can be challenging. 

“Often, the anticipation of the holiday can be more painful than the actual holiday itself,” said Rebecca Murray, director of support services at in Buffalo Grove. 

While nothing will eliminate the pain felt when a loved one is lost, Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove, IL would like to offer a few suggestions for getting through this stressful time of year.

  • Don’t forget about YOU. Self-care is one of the best ways to manage stress. Getting enough sleep, eating properly and avoiding excessive alcohol intake (which can interfere with sleep cycles), are all aspects of self-care. Find an activity with can relax or comfort you. Some ideas are to take a walk, meditate, get a massage, read or just catch up with a friend. 
  • Surround yourself with those that know and understand. Remember, grief is a normal process and it is okay to want to talk about your pet. Make sure that those around you want to listen and understand you loss. Know that it is okay to ask for help and to cry.
  • Give yourself the time you need to heal. If you feel as though you can continue your usual traditions, go for it. But know that you do not have to. If you do not want to shop, decorate or socialize, it’s okay. Taking the time to heal is a huge step in dealing with grief but do something that will aid in your healing process.  Take a vacation, volunteer or spend the day with a smaller group of people than usual. 
  • Create your own traditions. New traditions that include your pet are a creative way to keep his/her memory alive, year after year. Make a holiday card with your pet’s picture on it or a decoration in memory of him/her that can be taken out every year. You could also write a letter to your pet, one that you can read year after year, or give a donation every year in his/her name. This is a great way to make sure that your pet is never absent from your holiday celebrations.

To obtain more information about coping with the loss of a pet, please contact Rebecca Murray at (847)-459-7535 or email bmurray@vetspecialty.com.

Rebecca Murray, CVT is the director of support services at Veterinary Specialty Center (VSC) in Buffalo Grove. She is the founder of VSC’s Pet Loss Support Group; a growing community formed to support people coping with pet loss and is currently enrolled in the clinical psychology master’s program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She has authored two workbooks, Goodbye and Beyond and My Pet’s Living Will, to help people coping with pet loss, grief and assessing quality of life. To obtain a copy of Goodbye and Beyond and/or My Pet’s Living Will, call 847-459-7535 or email bmurray@vetspecialty.com.

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