Coping with Loss

Sharon Biggs

The death of a horse can be every bit as tragic as the death of a human loved one. For many people their horse is their best friend and a constant being, providing unconditional love. And when the horse passes away, the owner experiences profound loss. We live in a society that poorly understands what it is like for people to lose a parent, let alone a pet. People expect the bereaved individual to return to their normal work and social life, yet for the person who has sustained the loss, life is not as it was before.

Here are some tips to help ease the pain:

Accept the fact that very intense, often unpredictable, feelings of grief are normal, especially during the first two weeks. Some people are shocked that they feel more upset at the loss of the pet than they did when their close friend or relative died. Owners will also experience a roller coaster of emotions. This is just part of normal grief.

You are the most likely to feel guilty or concerned you made the wrong choices regarding your horse's care. These feelings should lessen soon. The decision to euthanize your horse is not the same as 'killing' him. Euthanasia provides a good, peaceful termination for an animal that would otherwise suffered and then died.

Memorialize your horse in a way that includes others who also cared for him. They can become a support system even when family and friends don't understand the depth of the attachment.


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