How to deal with depression after your cat dies (5 Tips)
In this article we will be discussing some tips on how you can dope with the death of your pet.
We will also explore the impact of loss on our well-being and the unique challenges of losing a pet and how we can overcome this challenge.
How to deal with depression after your cat dies?
Losing your cat can be a devastating and isolating experience since our relationship with our cat tends to be as important as any of our other human relationships. In this guide we are going to discuss tips on how to deal with the grief and loss of our cats.
Some of the things you can do to cope with the death of your cat include:
- Attending to your emotions
- Practicing self- kindness
- Practicing self-care
- Seeking out support
- Choosing to move forward
Impact of loss on our well-being
The experience of losing your pet- be it a cat, a hamster, or a dog- can be as painful as the experience of any type of loss no matter what people around you might say.
The grief you experience can be debilitating and can have an immense impact on your well-being. Grief is classified into two types- acute, which lasts up to 12 months and persistent grief, that lingers and impact you for a much longer period.
The death of a pet can impact our mental and physical health. We become preoccupied with thoughts, memories, and images of your pet and have difficulty accepting the loss.
Loss and grief can also lead to chronic stress which can cause loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, even chronic pain. Mental health related issues can include depression, anxiety that arises from unresolved anger, regret, bitterness, even guilt.
Chronic grief can also lead to depression. Research shows that the experience of loss can lead to depressive symptoms that range from mild to acute.
In most cases if the experience is not dealt with and the emotions related to it unresolved, the symptoms can become chronic and may lead to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
The unique challenge of losing our cats
Research shows us that the loss and grief felt after losing a pet is the same grief experienced following the loss of a human companion.
The kind of relationship we share with our animal companions is so unique that the experience of losing our pets can be especially challenging. Often times this relationship tends to be almost parent-child like with unconditional love and acceptance that is often lacking in human relationships.
Thus, the loss of your cat can be especially difficult because not many people understand or empathize with this loss. This can make you feel isolated and misunderstood.
People who do not have a feline companion might think that we do not grief as much as grieving the death of a person and may not be able to understand your pain.
This loss may not be a shared experience, there may be people who are unable to provide you with the support you need. And because people do not understand pet loss, there might be a challenge to find space to process our emotions.
Taking care of a cat often involves a relationship where you have to take care of the pet- they are your sole responsibility. Losing your cat can instill a lot of guilt and shame of not being able to save your pet. This can cause grief and emotions that can be so intense that it can impact your ability to cope with the demands of your daily life.
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Coping with loss
Whilst on your journey to cope with the death of your cat it is important to remember that you are an individual and your way of processing your experiences and coping with them will be different from others.
The time you take to deal with the death of your cat and the process itself will differ from others and be unique depending on what you do to help yourself heal and move forward.
You have to remember that coping with grief does not mean we are disregarding the love and joy your cat brought to you or the relationship you had with them. We are not attempting to heal just to forget.
Coping means to be present with your experience and learning how to deal with your grief and sadness in a way that is healthy and kind.
Let us take a close look at what are some of the steps you can take to cope with the death of your cat.
Be mindful of your emotions
Let us begin by acknowledging the way we feel. After the death of your cat, there will be many emotions that seem to overwhelm you. You may feel sad, angry, guilty, and even experience thoughts of hopelessness.
It is important that you choose to acknowledge these emotions rather than try to deny them. Take time to allow yourself to feel these emotions, no matter how painful, and accept them as part of your grieving process.
You need to be mindful of the thoughts that these emotions bring out, especially thoughts of regret and guilt. You might feel like you haven’t done enough or you had been a bad cat-parent.
Acknowledge these thoughts and these feelings but it will take mindful effort not to react to them. Do not make harsh conclusions nor make drastic changes based on them, rather make a mindful effort to be with them.
Practice self- kindness
Self-kindness involves acknowledging our emotions- especially the painful ones- and not being critical or judgemental about them. To begin practicing self-kindness is to accept that grief after the loss of a person is normal. So is the anger, guilt, and sadness.
As you begin to be mindful of your emotions, you begin to better understand what you are going through. Being kind to yourself is to be with these emotions without beating yourself for it.
You can also choose to rest during this distressing time, instead of pretending that everything is fine and plowing through your daily activities. Taking a moment to reflect on your experiences but attending to the grief can be an act of self kindness and self care.
Self care involves giving yourself time and taking the effort to care for yourself the way you would another person who is struggling with loss.
Take time to consider what you would do for them and do it for yourself. It could be making yourself a good meal and encouraging yourself to eat it. Or taking time to rest and catch up on sleep.
It could be reflecting on the good memories you had with your cat and giving yourself to grief the loss of these moments of joy too.
Self care can also involve allowing others to care for you by letting them into your life at a time when you are distressed and depressed.
While it might be difficult to experience joy, doing things you like can be a way to care for yourself- watching your favourite movies, eating you favorite meals, reading a book, or spending time with your friends.
You can also choose to meditate and exercise so as to give yourself a mental break and take care of your physical health.
Seek out support
When the symptoms of depression last more than two weeks and you experience thoughts of suicide along with hoplessness, it is time for you to seek out professional help.
As discussed earlier, depression can lead to depression and if this is not treated it can have a devastating impact on your life and well-being.
Seeking out support can also mean talking to your friends about your grief, connecting with your family for support and care.
You can also choose to enroll into support groups with people who have experienced the same issue or sign up for therapy.
Choose to move forward
Every individual takes a different amount of time to work through grief but when you are ready to choose to move forward, healing might be easier.
It is an active choice and it is yours. So choosing to heal and move forward from the death of your cat, relies on you and what you want at this moment in time.
When we talk about healing or moving forward, we are not choosing to forget your pet or the memories of joy and meaning they have brought into your life nor are we considering getting another cat.
Rather we are choosing to take care of ourselves so that we can look back at the time we had with them with fondness. Perhaps grow to become more resilient and find space in our hearts to love again.
In this guide we have taken the time to understand what the death of a cat companion can do to a person’s well-being and how grief makes a person susceptible to depression. We also discussed how we can cope with this painful experience.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Frequently asked questions related to “How to deal with depression after your cat dies (Tips on how to cope with the death of your cat)”
Can the loss of a cat cause depression?
Loss of an animal companion can also lead to anxiety and depression for some people as it is a painful, even traumatic experience. The loss of a cat can be as daunting and overwhelming as the loss of a human friend or family member.
Is it normal to feel suicidal after losing a pet?
The grief one feels after the loss of a pet can differ. For some they experience acute grief while others it can be more persistent. It is completely normal to experience symptoms of depression depending on the intensity of your relationship with your pet.
These symptoms can also include feeling a sense of hopelessness which might lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings. However, if it has gone to this extent, it is advisable to seek professional help for your grief and heal.
Why is losing a cat so hard?
The loss of a cat or any pet is especially hard because of their constant presence in your life. They are perhaps the one and only reliable relationship that is free of judgement. Cats and other pets are often accepting of us in ways most people aren’t- you can feel a sense of unconditional love from our pets which makes their deaths extremely hard to accept and heal from.
Do you ever get over losing a pet?
While the loss of our pets can make it seem like things will never be the same and that you might never get over it, it is possible to move forward from the experience of loss.
Yes, things will never be the same because you have lose an important relationship but you can take the time to grieve and make an effort to heal from it.
When does losing a pet get easier?
One small study of people who had lost their pet found that the time it takes to heal from the loss differed from person to person.
Majority of the population took little over a year to finally accept their loss and close to 3 years to recover and move forward from the loss.