This post is about dealing with service dog loss on the emotional level. Its isn't about fundraising for another service dog as that's a whole different kettle of fish. I'm writing this to hopefully help other service dog handlers with frief and to reassure. It's okay to be sad and it's okay to allow yourself time to grieve.
It's been a little over a year since my service dog passed away and I still miss him. Even though Cares, Inc. in Kansas approved my application for another service dog, there's really no replacing Tomlin in my heart.
Losing a service dog isn't like losing a pet. The bond is deeper and the loss more acute. For me, it's really been like losing a best friend and family member all in one. For over a dozen years Tomlin was there to help whenever I needed him. He would come dashing in whenever I dropped my medicine without being called. He knew I'd need help and he knew he'd get a treat or playtime out of the deal. I chuckle now when I think of him waiting expectantly for his reward.
It's been awhile getting to this point though. But that's okay. Grief is normal and natural. There's no magic end point. It's a process and like any process healing takes time.
If you are grieving the loss of a service dog, I hope you can give yourself time to go through the process.
Some things that can make the process easier are
Talk with someone. This may be a professional, a friend or a pastor.
Give yourself space and permission to grieve.
Donate to a shelter. Knowing you're helping others can help you feel better. I came out from the shelter feeling much better than I went in. Others have said this to me also.
If want to have a memorial service, have a memorial service. A pastor can help with this. No, they won't think it's odd at all. Chances are pretty good that they've helped with this before. If not, they've likely lost a pet and can relate.
There are probably other ideas. Please share below about what you did that helped you through the grief process. By doing so, we can learn from each other and walk this path together - just as our furry beloved would want us to.