Losing a beloved pet can be nothing short of devastating. As with any other loved one, the death of an animal family member can leave one feeling numb and unable to focus. Unfortunately, if you’re an adult who is employed, spending days on end curled up and crying isn’t a feasible option. While some employers allow time off to mourn the loss of a pet, the vast majority do not. So, what’s the best way to cope when it’s time to head back to work? Here are a few tips.
Talk to your boss.
While there may not be a formal policy for bereavement time following the death of a pet, if you’ve got a compassionate boss, he or she may be willing to offer some flexibility. At the very least, you should talk to your manager anyway. After all, your emotions may make it difficult to concentrate and could impact your quality of work. Keeping your boss in the loop is in everyone’s best interest. And who knows – you may be surprise at how understanding and accommodating he or she may be.
Tap into your PTO.
If you’re really struggling and feel as though you can’t contribute to the workload, you may need to bite the bullet and tap into some of your paid time off, whether it’s a sick day, a mental health day or a vacation day. As much as it stinks to use up your allotted time on something that isn’t exactly fun, it may be the best possible way to help you work through the grieving process and get yourself back to a better place before returning to work.
Lean on your coworkers.
Most of us have at least one or two colleagues at work whom we would consider to be a decent friend. Don’t be afraid to lean on the ones around you for support as you navigate those first few days back at work following your pet’s passing. They could be tremendously helpful, whether it’s by helping to pick up a little of your slack or just being a shoulder to cry on when you’re feeling emotional.
Set up a small memorial.
Since you probably spend most of your waking hours in the office, setting up a small, makeshift memorial to honor your pet can help with the healing process. It could be something as simple as tacking up a photo of your pet to your cubicle, or it could be something as elegant as a piece of glass art. These lovely keepsakes make the perfect paperweight and can be infused with a small amount of your loved one’s cremains. If you don’t have a workstation, a piece of cremation jewelry is a great option.
Be patient with yourself.
People often feel embarrassed about the emotions they’re feeling after a pet dies. But experts collectively believe that losing a pet can be just as devastating as losing a human loved one. Grief is a normal and even healthy human emotion. If you’re struggling, be forgiving of yourself and give yourself time to work through the rollercoaster of feelings you’re experiencing. Over time, the pain will subside and you’ll be left with happy memories of your cherished companion.