Pet Loss and Changing Seasons


The Correlation Between Pet Loss and the Changing Seasons
By: Ann Rooney / NorthStar VETS Certified Bereavement Counselor and Animal Chaplain

With changing leaves, crisp fall air, and pumpkin spiced flavors and scents — autumn is truly an exciting season. For those experiencing deep loss, mourners only see dreary days becoming shorter, and blistery cold weather quickly approaching. Fall reminds us that everything in nature is slowly dying. If you (or someone you know) is experiencing melancholy due to loss (human or pet), it’s best to keep a “journal” of the days (good and bad) and reflect on them. Take notice of specific patterns and make notes. Are the weekends or nights the hardest? A great coping mechanism during fall is to take advantage of beautiful sunny afternoons. Take a short walk at lunchtime — or try to take lunch outside for a few minutes. Focus on Mother Nature’s beauty, and remember when the landscape was once lush, green, and vibrant. Nature also helps us to remember beautiful and good memories.

Studies have shown that winter is the worst time for those who are grieving. When hearts are hurting from the loss of a pet/family member/friend, cold and gloomy weather brings further despair and depression. Reflecting from past journaled notes is a good way to navigate sadness triggers and can help you “plan for” and avoid certain bad days ahead. Another great suggestion for coping with grief is to create “to-do” lists. Cleaning, purging and organizing is a terrific distraction to keep anxious minds busy. A disorganized pantry, overflowing junk drawer, outdated medicine cabinet, or cluttered closet is the perfect diversion. Simple tasks like tossing expired items and donating old clothing helps to preoccupy the mind by collecting our thoughts, and yes, sometimes working out our inward anger.

When experiencing sadness, it’s easy to become a couch potato or stay in bed — but it isn’t always healthy. The grieving process still needs to happen, all while taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. A great way to beat the “Winter Blues” is by donning a warm coat and taking a brisk walk. Take a long look at those trees again and admire the change they just experienced, knowing that Mother Nature is slowly preparing for the re-birth of Spring — sun, flowers, green, and the beauty in life.

Ann RooneyAnn Rooney, CAC, CBC, CVCCP
For over 16 years, Ann Rooney has worked in the veterinary field comforting pet parents in times of crisis. Certified by the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement in 2016, Ann has committed her career to supporting the emotional needs of clients who have lost their trusted animal companion. By working with veterinarians, connecting with various pet cemeteries, and even experiencing her own pet loss, Ann is a terrific resource for helping clients navigate the difficult part of mourning a pet.

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