Working through a pet death pet deathis a difficult period in anybody’s life. We bring these animals into our world and form connections with them that we hope will go on forever, but the painful truth is every pet will eventually pass. They are our companions, and though it seems silly to bring home a friend who’s “just going to die”, we crave that connection and owning a pet is a real gift.
So, imagine how much more difficult going through pet loss must be for someone in the early stages of dementia. After all, when the pet owner is in their right mind, the feeling of losing their friend can be acutely powerful. But when you don’t have a solid grasp on what’s happening from minute to minute, you might forget anything happened to your pet at all. Until something happens to remind you. And this could happen over and over again.
We’ve outlined how important it is to approach a pet death sensitively with someone suffering from dementia in the past. Join us today, as we bring you five effective tips for for telling your loved one about their pet’s death, and three ways to help them cope with their loss.
Addressing The Death
Dementia presents an especially difficult situation when it comes to death, because losing a pet is always difficult but having to constantly re-remember the death can feel like a nightmare. Keep some of the following tips in mind when telling a loved one with dementia about the death:
- Break the news to them as early as possible. Even with dementia, you’ll find they probably sense the issue early on, and not coming out with it is just going to cause them unnecessary confusion.
- If you’re worried your emotions will get in the way, ask a friend or healthcare professional to break the news for you.
- Talk to the person when you know they’re likely to be well rested. Answer their questions as honestly as possible, too.
- Talk in short, easy-to-understand sentences, and don’t bombard them with details. Use words like “dead” and avoid “passed away” to make things as clear as possible.
- Never try to shield them from the truth by lying and suggesting their pet has run away. They will understand, on some deeper level, and become agitated when the animal doesn’t return.
Helping Them Accept The Death
While nothing can make losing your companion “all better”, there are some best practices you’ll want to follow to help them process what’s happened in a healthy and sustainable way:
- Remember to talk in the past tense about their pet. Don’t slip into talking about them like they’re still here, or you might convince your loved one they are, which will just confuse them.
- Talk with them about their pet, and about how sad you are to hear they’re gone. Tell stories, look at pictures, and engage with them as a form of therapy.
- Make your peace with how often your loved one is going to want to talk about their pet. It’s a frustrating part of the process, but it’s just the reality of it. If it seems like a bit much, go through it with them, and they’ll benefit from your help.
Pet Death and Dementia
Losing your memory is a difficult process that is something many of us will experience, either on our own or through a family member. Pets can help soften the impact of this condition, but every pet will eventually pass away, and it’s important to be prepared for when that day comes.
For more on living with and supporting your family members through the aging process, check out some of our other awesome blogs or reach out to Granny Nannies, today!