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
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
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.
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
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.