SAYING FAREWELL
Real Simple|September 2023
Our dogs (and cats and hamsters and lizards!) are part of the family. So when they head to “a farm upstate," the loss can hit hard. This advice may help the hurt.
JUNO DEMELO
SAYING FAREWELL

IT CAN BE gut-wrenching when a beloved pet dies. They're our constant companions! They follow us into the bathroom and get excited when we come back from the mailbox! "Pets are always with you-and their love is unconditional," says Leigh Ann Gerk, a licensed professional counselor and the founder of Mourning to Light Pet Loss in Loveland, Colorado, which helps grieving animal lovers. If you've lost a fur baby, you'll love them long after they're gone, but you won't always burst into tears at the sight of a tennis ball. Promise. Here are some tips to help soften the very real pain.

Make a Bucket List

We often know for a while that the dreaded day is coming. We've seen our pet's health decline, talked about their prognosis with our vet, maybe agonized about the right time to let go. In the last weeks or months of a pet's life, it's not uncommon for owners to experience what's called anticipatory grief-mourning the loss before it happens. One way to cope during this period is to give your pet the things they enjoy most. "Make a bucket list," says Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian in Jupiter, Florida, and cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice. "It doesn't have to be grandiose. Before my dog died, I let him pee on a neighbor's plant, eat a steak dinner, and bark at nothing. When you're able to check off those items, it helps with any feelings of regret."

Write Something Sweet

This story is from the September 2023 edition of Real Simple.

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This story is from the September 2023 edition of Real Simple.

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