We all suffer when we lose someone, whether it is a family member, a friend, or a beloved pet. It is normal to grieve the loss of someone in your life, whether it is a person or an animal. They were an integral part of your life, and your life will not be as full without them in it.
When you lose a person in your life, friends and family understand. We all know how hard it is to lose a loved one. But when you lose a beloved pet, friends and family may not always understand just how much pain you are going through. They may say, it was just a pet. Get a new one. But, there will never be another pet like the one that you have lost. Every animal has a different personality, and you may bond strongly to one animal, and not at all to another. Pets can truly be soul mates just as people can, and sometimes they are better - they don't hurt us as much, other than when they get sick or pass away. They are always there for us, they comfort us when we are sad, and they share our joy when we are happy. They help to relieve our stress when we have had a bad day. They talk back to us in their own way, and they express their opinions about how they feel about things. Anyone who has ever loved a pet knows exactly what this is like.
The important thing when you lose a pet is that it is okay to grieve. If you have people around you that don't understand, or that scoff at your grief, then don't pay attention to them. Surround yourself with people that do understand. If you can't find that in your circle of friends, family, and co-workers, then go elsewhere. There are many online support groups for pet loss. There may even be local in-person support groups for pet loss grief, and if there aren't, then maybe you should start one if you need to talk to someone. More than likely you will get a significant response. Or maybe you internalize your grief and don't want to talk about it with anyone. That is okay too, just don't let it eat you alive, and know that it is okay to hurt.
There will be a period of time after you lose your pet that every little thing can bring back the pain of the loss. Finding a favorite toy, or sitting on the couch without your best friend can reawaken all the painful feelings of loss. Coming home and not having your pet there to greet you. No matter how painful it is, or how much you hurt, know that it will get better. Time really does heal all. You will never forget just how much you loved your pet, but over time it will hurt less and less. You will start to remember more of the good times, and less of the hurt and the pain at the end. Even though it may not seem so now, there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel.
But, if your grief is affecting your day-to-day activities, if you have a hard time getting yourself out of bed in the morning, if you just can't bring yourself to care about anything anymore, then your grief may have transitioned to depression. If you feel like you are falling down a deep dark hole, and that you will never get out of it, then you need to talk to a professional now, not later. This can be a licensed therapist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a clergy person. They are trained to deal with your kind of grief, and they will help you through it. If you don't know who to go to, call your vet and ask them for a recommendation. Ask your friends or family. Go online and look for recommendations. Pick a name out of the phone book. Go and talk to someone. They will understand your pain, even if you don't think so. You can get on with your life, but you may need some help to do so, and there is no shame at all in asking for help.
Finally, once the pain has started to ease a little, consider if you have enough of your heart left to open it up to another companion. No, they will never be the same as the pet that you lost, but they will be unique in their own way, and you can build new bonds with them. If you don't think you are quite ready to adopt a new pet but are starting to consider it, go and volunteer at an animal shelter, or anywhere that you can be around other animals and start to open up to them again. After all, there are a lot of homeless pets that are in shelters that need love too, whether it will be because they go home with you, or because you are just there to give them some love and attention in their transition to their next home.