When your pet passes away, it’s very likely that people will ask you, “When are you going to get another one?” If your grief is apparent to them and makes them uncomfortable, they will probably even urge you: “Why don’t you just get another one?”
You may also wonder, “Should I? Will I feel better if I adopt another animal companion?”
The decision about when to bring another pet into your life is a very individual one. It is most important to not act from what anyone else tells you is best for you. Grief is an inner journey, and while those close to you may accompany you, they cannot effectively direct you, even when you feel lost.
I have observed that when another pet is brought in very quickly, the person tends to compare the new pet unfavorably to the one who has passed away, and sometimes even feels some resentment toward the new one. Eventually, the comparisons will fade away, it is to be hoped, and the new pet will be appreciated for himself or herself.
When the bond was deep, the mourning will be deep as well, and will take some time. One wise person observed, “People say, wait to get a new dog until you stop grieving the old one; but you never completely stop grieving the old one.”
At some point, a point that only you will be able to determine, it will be beneficial to you to open your home to a new animal friend. Will the bond be the same? Definitely not. Will the bond be as deep? Possibly. So many things go into creating that deep bond, including shared experiences that will not be repeated. However, there will be new experiences to share, with a new and unique individual.
The bond you had with the old pet is one-of-a-kind, and the same is true of the bond you will create with the new pet. This is why each bond is so precious.
How will you know it is the right time?
This is a good time to let your intuition, your heart, lead you. When the thought of bringing in a new pet fills you with anxiety, resistance or doubt, it is too soon. When the idea feels warm, hopeful and positive, it is time to check out a local adoption event, or do an on-line search, and let the thought begin to grow roots. There is no need to rush; listen to your heart.
Will you feel disloyal to the pet who has passed away? Think of what your pet always wanted for you in life: to see you happy. Some people even ask the spirit of their deceased pet to guide them to the next animal to share their home.
So, should you “get another one”? Yes, you probably should. The bigger question is: “When?” The answer to that lies in your own grief process, and in the willingness to let that unfold with patience.