Having a pet as a solopreneur, freelancer or VA means that we often work at home alone with our pets who then turn into our coworkers, and when they leave there’s a massive empty and painful space both in our offices and our hearts.
Losing a pet is like losing a part of your family or a part of yourself, a very special bond is formed after many years of love and care. It’s never easy, and knowing how to deal with the loss could help you keep the momentum in your business and personal life.
Unfortunately, this situation happened to me a week ago, and even though I saw it coming, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My lovely cat ñoño was diagnosed stomach cancer on Friday, and after much thought, we decided to move ahead with the euthanasia last Wednesday to end his suffering.
It was an extremely difficult thing to watch and go through, but the truth is this is part of life. Pets die, people die, and it’s important to know how to deal with these situations, so we are able to move on, learn, and be stronger.
Part of my process was writing this blog post because I also want to help my fellow solopreneurs dealing with these tough times. Here are my 8 tips that could help you deal with your loss:
Reach out and get support
The best way you can start feeling a bit better is reaching out and getting support from anyone. From your family, friends, subscribers, followers, close clients, to even anonymous people on internet forums, absolutely anyone can be tremendously supportive.
Social Media was useful in a lot of ways. I posted snapchat stories about how I felt, I said goodbye on Facebook and people reached out to me with support, comments and tips.
I love my people, I’m so grateful for all the support that I’ve received throughout the past few weeks. In over a weekend, more than 100 emails came in from newsletter subscribers sending their kindest thoughts.
This wave of support and understanding helped me realize that I was not alone. In the back of my mind, I was imaging that others would think “It was just a pet”, “only an animal”, I was surprised at how the death affects them as well, everyone who has or knows a pet gets it.
Talk to anybody, talk about how you are feeling. At the beginning it’s not going to be easy, you will probably hate the world but all the advice and support your people will give you is going to be really useful.
If you can afford it, go to a therapist or counselor, they are trained to assist you in dealing with your loss.
Communicate with your clients and team
For this past couple of weeks, I’ve been sending email updates to my clients, so they understand what’s happening, if I wasn’t going to be able to work on something or make a deadline, they know what needs to get done.
Tell them what you are feeling, they will understand what you are going through. This will help them and yourself get organized better throughout the process.
Having a team, a VA or someone to delegate stuff is a gift sent from heaven. Delegate your tasks and trust your team.
Take time off
You need to take a break to grief. It may be that on the first day you won’t be able to get out of bed, and that’s totally ok. You won’t feel like checking your notifications or emails, that’s normal.
Don’t feel like you need to work, because the stress of having a loss will take a toll if you don’t rest.
Let your emotions flow
Take the time to understand what is going on inside of you. I went through denial, anger, depression and all the stages of grief. I can now say I’ve accepted that he is gone and feeling much better than he was before, that was a huge weight off my shoulders.
In order to truly come through a period of loss and grief, we must be able to face every aspect of the loss. Focusing your attention on your pet’s life and what they meant to you will help in that process.
Let everything out of your system, the worst thing you can do is leaving them bottled up inside.
If you find it difficult to come to terms with the loss of a pet or animal companion, try focusing your attention on your pet, try writing down exactly what your pet meant to you. Yes, the tears will come, but if you continue to look at those memories and feelings soon the tears will go and you will be left with the good memories. But more importantly, you will be able to enjoy those memories once the grief has gone.
We sometimes have to cry the grief out to allow the joy of our good memories to shine through.
Take care of yourself
This is critical, when tragedy strikes we often forget to eat, take a shower or rest. When you are sad, take a shower, put yourself a bit of makeup, even though it seems superficial, it works to boost your self-esteem.
Sleep and rest for as long as you need to and don’t forget to eat even if it’s just a sandwich or some fruit. I lost a few pounds because I wasn’t eating, and that’s not a healthy way to lose weight.
Start working as soon as you feel better
A couple of days after I lost my cat, I actually asked a client for work because I needed to take my mind off of things. Clean your house or do something to keep your mind active.
Don’t stay in bed the whole time, as soon as you feel better get out of your house and take a walk, get exercised, do anything that will get your body and mind active.
Listen to happy pop music (sad music should be banned) and dance, the endorphins will make you feel better.
Get ready to let go and move on
It was painful to see his blankets and toys, so donating all his stuff to the SPCA helped me move on a bit. Once I was there and saw the kittens in need of adoption, the feeling of comfort and that magical unconditional love came back to me. Now I feel it’s time to welcome a new furry friend into the family.
We will never forget about our babies or replace them. And as soon you feel you are ready and your heart says it’s ok, consider helping a new guy that will keep you company. You probably need them more than they need you.
Eat ice cream
You are allowed, go eat ice cream. If everything else fails this is guaranteed to make you feel better, especially if it’s chocolate.
I want to hear from you, What has helped you deal with your pet loss? Comment below.