No one wants to think about it, but at some point, every owner experiences the pain of losing their beloved horse. While for some people, “it’s just a horse”, to owners, they are members of the family, and the connection they have with their pet runs deep. So, when the time comes that they leave, which will inevitably happen either due to natural causes or injury or sickness, it’s not ‘just a horse’ that owners have to learn to live without, but the bond that has been built over time.

The loss of a horse can be a momentous change in an owner’s lifestyle, as having a horse requires deep emotional, physical, and financial investment.

The weight of grief can often feel too heavy to lift, especially in the early stages following the loss. But the day will come when you can reminisce on the memory of your horse with fondness rather than pain, but how you grieve and how long you need to feel like yourself again depends on you.

The Grieving Process

Everyone has their own ways of grieving, but familiarizing yourself with the five stages of grief will also be helpful. You may experience all of these or only some of the stages, and not necessarily in a linear order. Knowing that there’s a reason behind the plethora of emotions you are experiencing and that they’re normal can help you adjust to the mourning process.

Denial is often the first stage of the grieving process. You may have that internal insistence that it can’t be happening. Denial is a subconscious emotional defense mechanism to block out the initial pain of grief.

Anger is how you usually express the first waves of grief. Once you get over the denial stage and the pain of grieving begins to pierce through, you may feel angry at yourself or at your horse for leaving you, or the vet for not saving him. You will even find yourself lashing out at friends or family.

Bargaining is how you subconsciously deal with circumstances beyond your control. You may start having “what if” and “if only” thoughts. For instance, you may think that your horse may not have died if only you’d spotted his illness sooner.

Depression is commonly associated with grief and can manifest in several ways. You may feel like your life is meaningless without your horse. Going about your usual daily activities may be a struggle, and you might believe you won’t ever feel happy again.

Acceptance won’t make you suddenly feel alright about what’s happened. It’s the recognition of the reality that your life no longer includes your horse. Accepting the truth will help you be proactive again, like considering reintroducing riding into your life. All the positive steps you take during this stage will help get you back on your feet and allow you to be happy again.

The Weight of Responsibility

The Weight Of Responsibility
Losing your horse can come with complicated emotions unique to mourning for an animal. If you’ve made the hard decision to put him down, your grieving process may start from the moment you made the decision. You may feel guilt or anger toward yourself or worry about making the wrong choice. These feelings are reasonable, and chatting with your vet will help you dismiss the idea that you could have done things differently.

Healing

While it may seem challenging to do, being proactive towards recovery can be a big help. Instead of asking a friend to clear your horse’s stable and pack up his belongings, doing it yourself can help you face and accept the situation.

Coping Mechanisms

Learning how to understand and manage your emotions by talking about them is an essential step in the healing process. Here are some ways to go about this:

Talking to a sympathetic friend or family member whom you trust and feel comfortable expressing your emotions in front of can help you release some of your tumultuous feelings that are building up, particularly in the early stages of the grieving process. Writing your feelings down will help you express yourself without feeling self-conscious.

It will also allow you to keep track of how you’re coping. Speaking to a professional who is trained to understand the complexities of emotions that come with the grieving process will help you process and accept your feelings. There are bereavement counselors who specialize in pet bereavement, so don’t feel as though you’re not entitled to speak to someone about how you feel.

Stronger Together

Talking to someone who’s gone through the same thing can give you a massive amount of comfort and will help you feel that you’re not alone and aren’t being irrational.

Moving Forward

Deciding to ride again can come with a range of complicated emotions, like feeling guilty about letting another horse into your life or finding yourself making unfavorable comparisons between your new horse and the one you’ve lost. Giving yourself enough time is crucial.

Pushing yourself to do things too soon may hinder your grieving process. Only when you feel that you genuinely want to ride again should you do so. Don’t force yourself to do anything just because you think you should.

Giving Yourself a Break

The plethora of emotions that result from grief can give you a high amount of pressure and negativity, but keep in mind that you’re not at fault, and deciding to ride again doesn’t make you disloyal or heartless.

Seeking Closure

Seeking Closure

Grief isn’t a measurable emotion. You won’t reach a point where you no longer miss or remember your horse. Instead, the healing process will eventually help you to take the beautiful memories and happiness your horse gave you as you move forward with your life.

Once you’ve reached this stage, memorializing your beloved horse may prove to be cathartic. There are several ways to memorialize your horse, such as through a special homage, commissioning a portrait or having a piece of jewelry made, or having a customized memorial stone made for him.

Rainbow Bridge Pet Memorials can help you show love for your horse with a pet memorial stone that you designed. We know that the loss of one of your best friends will always be painful, and providing a proper memorial in his or her honor helps significantly in the grieving process. Call us today at 208-253-4557 to know more about the products and services that we offer.