Pet loss is not easy for anyone. The emotional upheaval can throw your daily routine off and create anxiety, sadness and other normal feelings of pet loss grief.
Depending on how ill or infirm your companion is, doing things on their bucket list can help you through this special time together and create beauty memories.
Having a bucket list that you are able to carry out is a wonderful way to celebrate your pet’s life. It is also a way to acknowledge the love you share and help support you during this very raw and painful time.
When creating your bucket list you may be able to keep some of the fun stuff that you have always done together. Yet, you also may need to modify your day-to-day events and create new memories that will help you heal your pet loss.
Right now you maybe grieving your potential loss with your friend as they reach the end of their life. Not only are they ill but also the things that you do with them are changing. Even though your companion is still with you right now, your daily routines have and will continue to change.
My goal is to help you find deeper enrichment with your dog, cat, horse or other companion during this special time. Keep in mind that a bucket list of activities doesn’t have to be grandiose like climbing a mountain. They can be as simple as giving your friend a special treat. What matters most is that they are meaningful to you and your animal companion. Something you will always treasure, remember, and celebrate.
First Bucket List
The first thing that I ask my clients when we are working on this part of their healing pet loss grief journey is to make a list. I ask them to reflect on the following questions:
- What are the things that you like to do most with your companion?
- What time of day is your companion the most energetic, tired, playful, etc.?
Your list can be any number of things. Include everything, don’t edit or wonder if your companion can still do them at this point. Just list everything you can think of that your companion loves to do.
The healing part of this exercise is that it gives you a chance to document and reminisce your relationship. You will probably discover things that you forgot that you did together but really enjoy. You will remember some of their toys, places, people and other events that were part of both of your lives.
I will warn you that recalling your adventures and special times together will bring up grief. That is okay because it is extremely healthy to feel pet loss grief. Just keep in mind that what you are going through is normal and unique to your relationship with your companion.
Going over these adventures and life events will help you in many aspects of your grieving journey.
Second Bucket List
The next part of the exercise is for you to make a new list that includes the things that you would like and can do together. This is the beginning of creating your pet’s bucket list.
Here are three questions to help you get started on your pet’s bucket list to help your healing journey with pet loss.
- After creating your first list, which includes all the activities that you and your companion have enjoyed together are you experiencing any feelings of sadness? Joy? What were your favorite activities?
- After creating your second list, are there any new feelings of pet loss grief? If so write those down. Also, write down feelings of joy and hope.
- Have your pet loss grief feelings changed after you have done some of these bucket list activities?
So many of my clients find relief from their pet loss grief when creating their pet’s bucket list.
Wendy Van de Poll
Wendy Van de Poll is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support and the human-animal bond. As a bestselling author, speaker, educator, and pet loss grief coach, she has passionately devoted hgrieer life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people. Wendy has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. I provide a calm and very safe place for you and your healing journey please reach out.