Losing a much loved pet is a traumatic time, especially if the animal has been part of the family for a long time. Maybe the kids have grown up with the dog or cat or whatever and suddenly, due to old age or accident, the pet is dead.
I know what that’s like, and maybe you do too. We had a dog in our family for almost 15 years but she had to be put down. It’s an upsetting time, especially for children who feel the loss.
Tears may flow, and that’s a good thing, although society still has an attitude that tears are not appropriate especially for men. Grown men don’t cry is a slogan often used. Many adults today really don’t know how to handle emotions such as grief and sorrow, which we all experience at some time. If you haven’t yet, one day you will.
Unfortunately many of us have locked away our emotions, for whatever reason. We don’t feel safe in expressing how we really feel, and so bury these feelings deep inside. But did you know emotions are gifts given to us by God? Denying them is damaging to our health and relationships with others. Someone described denying our emotions like playing a trombone with a stuck slide.
The Bible tells of a day when Jesus wept openly and unashamedly at the grave of his good friend Lazarus. Romans 12:15 (ESV) says “weep with those who weep”. It’s all part of God’s good advice. Think about the different emotions he has given you and me. He gave laughter to express joy, words to express anger, and tears to express sorrow. They are each real and legitimate. Crying is nature’s way to release much of the pain and sorrow and grief.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
If we face loss of some kind, there can be a sense of denial: This couldn’t be happening to me—it’s all a bad dream. That’s how the mind works sometimes, but we need to face reality and realise that it’s OK to hurt at a time of loss. It’s important to give ourselves permission to cry, rather than bottling our tears up. Only when we discharge these painful emotions can we see clearly the next step, and pick up the pieces of our lives.
It may take time, but it will happen if we are open with our emotions. In some societies, people come together to grieve for days at the death of a friend or family member. There can be overwhelming feelings of loneliness after the death of a friend or family member—a fear of being alone, even saying to ourselves, What is there left to live for? It’s alright to feel like that for a while. But then move out towards others to find acceptance and company.
There can be feelings of guilt—like I could have done more. Or feelings of anger can surface—Why did God allow this to happen to me? Anger is a difficult emotion, but it can be expressed in healthy ways. If it is ignored or repressed, full recovery is not possible and can lead to depression and sickness. Tell God your Heavenly Father about how you feel—God doesn’t get upset; he knows how you feel anyway. King David expressed his thoughts very clearly in Psalm 109.
Give yourself time to heal. It may take weeks or months. Don’t live for the past but acknowledge to God how you feel and find something creative to do, and help other people. Remember, it’s God’s Will that you recover and grow as the person God intended you to be. He wants to help you as you open your life to him. Do that each day, and commit your life to him—1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) says, “Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you”.