Holidays Can Be Hard Time for Those in Grief

Here are tips to make it through the season after the loss of a cat or dog.

Posted: Dec. 15, 2008, 3 a.m. EST

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Gray kitten and woman
Experts say that those grieving the loss of a pet should acknowledge their feelings, rather than suppress them.
The holiday season can be overwhelming for some as memories of past holidays and loved ones, including departed pets, are conjured. Whether the wound is still fresh or your pet has been gone for some time, the grieving process is very important. Colleen Mihelich, founder and creative director of Peternity, a company dedicating to memorializing pets, offers several helpful tips on how to honor your pet during the holidays:

  • You know the old adage “what you resist persists”? During the holidays, rather than trying to push aside the pain and sadness that you're feeling in missing your pet, allow yourself to acknowledge the way that you feel. Get your feelings expressed to help minimize their power over you. Write a letter to your pet telling him the things that you miss about him and thank him for all of the precious memories and friendship that he's given you.
  • During your holiday meal, place a special candle in the middle of the table and light it in memory of your pet. She will be with you in spirit and will still be included.
  • Take your favorite book on grieving and write a dedication in the inside cover to your pet. Donate it to your local library.
  • Give yourself a holiday destressing gift and treat yourself to something that you find relaxing and rejuvenating.
  • Volunteer at a shelter or animal rescue — maybe even take home a new pet. When grieving, it always lifts our spirits to give to others who are in need. It helps to take the focus off of ourselves.
    Many of these suggestions can be useful in helping you process your grief or create traditions to honor your beloved pets. Every person grieves differently, but it is important to surround oneself with support and focus on the good times.
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Reader Comments

Fuzz's mom    Huntington Beach, CA

12/27/2008 2:05:10 PM

We had to put our cat to sleep on Dec 23. It has helped greatly writing down our thoughts abut her, going through photos, remembering the joy she brought into our lives. The house is so empty without her.

Paula    Independence, MO

12/15/2008 10:52:35 PM

Great article, this is my first Christmas without my Ali, and it has been so difficult, I keep looking under the Christmas tree where he slept and he isn't there.

momo    anaheim, CA

12/15/2008 10:43:19 PM

good article

Heather    Antonio, TX

12/15/2008 10:08:25 PM

My furry babies are a big part of our family. We have lost 4, one recently that has been an extemely hard to deal with. this is a good article.

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