Losing a furry family member is a deeply emotional experience, and the process of grieving the loss of a pet isn’t something that just goes away overnight. It takes time to heal and finally reach a place where tears and sadness are replaced with smiles and happy memories. It is at this point that many people start to question whether it’s the right time to welcome a new pet into their heart and home. While this is ultimately a personal decision, there are a few things you can do to figure out if you’re ready.
When a pet passes away, there is often a sense of emptiness. Many people feel they need to fill that void by bringing a new pet into the mix right away. Unfortunately, doing so too quickly can have repercussions. Make sure you and your loved ones have taken an adequate amount of time to experience your grief and work through your emotions. Waiting until you are in a better place emotionally will allow you to bond better with your new pet and provide them with the love and attention they deserve once the time comes.
If you share your home with others – two-legged or four – it’s important to take their feelings into account as well. This is especially the case with children, who often have a harder time grieving the loss of a pet. Are they really ready? What about any remaining pets in the home? Remember – animals grieve too. In some cases, introducing a new pet into the dynamic too soon can be disruptive. Deciding when to adopt again should be something you do as a family, and the well being of other pets should be carefully considered.
Assess your needs and future plans.
Caring for a pet carries with it a number of responsibilities. If you were a one-pet household, now may be a good time to assess what your life will be like without an animal to look after. Are there certain goals or plans you’ve been putting off because of your pet that you may now be free to do? For instance, taking a long vacation or doing some home renovations? If there are any lifestyle changes you are considering, it’s better to tackle them now – before you welcome another pet. It’s perfectly ok to take some time off. You can always reassess things down the road, when the timing may be better.
Take it slow.
If you do decide it’s time, make sure you approach the task of finding a new pet with careful consideration. Again, rushing into things could have dire consequences. Before you start your search, figure out the important details, such as the age, size, personality and energy level that would best suit your home, family and lifestyle. Decide which factors are most important to you and which ones are merely preferences. And if at all possible, consider adopting from a shelter rather than a breeder.
Honor the past.
Above all, understand that welcoming a new pet will by no means replace the one you lost. Accept the fact that grieving the loss of a pet isn’t something that completely disappears, even after you’ve adopted a new furry family member. It can be helpful to find ways to honor the past while also looking toward the future with your new pet - things like making a scrapbook or having some of your pet’s cremains turned into a lovely memorial. That way you can always keep a little piece of your loved one with you.
The loss of a pet can never be understated, and it’s ok to feel heartbroken. But opening your heart and home to a new animal companion can be a great way to heal and move forward. You just have to know when the time is right.