Grief and I are friends.
Begrudging (on my part, at least), yet longtime friends.
Almost three years ago now, my family lost my brother.
He was 25-years-old when he died.
The loss was stunning, devastating, and began ripples of grief that continue today.
While this grief has been a difficult journey so far, there have been many ways that Jet has helped me through it. Of course, my family and friends have been there for me too, but there is something about a dog’s love in the time of grief that just gives a little something more…
8 Ways Your Dog Can Help You To Cope With Grief
1. Unlike people, a dog doesn’t offer trite placating statements that often hurt more than they help. Rather, they offer the quiet warmth of another being and a listening ear.
2. Your dog will never tire of you reminiscing about your lost loved one, they will listen to every story you have to tell, even if you tell it a thousand times.
3. Your dog will give you a reason to get out of bed and keep moving forward. Even if the only reason you get out of bed is to feed them breakfast, you will find that it’s easier to keep moving once you are up!
4. Your dog will require walking which gives you the opportunity to exercise and some quiet time to think.
5. When you are ready to get back out and interact with other people, your dog will provide you an avenue through which to interact while also offering familiar comfort.
6. Your dog can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression related to grief simply by being present. Stroking your dog can decrease your anxiety, decrease high blood pressure, and create feelings of well-being.
7. Your dog gives you reason. Sometimes when grief hits hard, you may fall into a pit of despair and feel as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing that your dog needs you to care for them and loves you unconditionally can give you reason to drag yourself out of this pit and keep going.
8. Your dog won’t criticize you for your method of coping with your grief. Whether you turn to pints of ice cream, binge-watching Netflix, or obsessive organization, your dog will simply sit, watch, and be with you.
A Note to the Grieving
If you are experiencing grief, please know that while your dog and your family or friends can provide you with comfort, there are many other resources that can help you to cope too. Please don’t feel that you must suffer your grief alone, reach out (online, via phone, or in person), find the tools you need to keep moving forward, and never be ashamed of your grief.