For many students trekking off to college this fall, it’s easy to look forward to the exciting adventure that awaits. That is…until it’s time to pack up and say goodbye to their room, family, friends and their favorite furry companion.
It can be heart-wrenching to leave a pet behind for weeks, months or even years. It’s a life-altering process that can trigger and invoke an array of feelings. Here are some tips on what to do with those emotions and how to cope.
Frequent Bouts of Sadness
Thinking about having to rehome a pet or leave them behind while going to school can bring about sadness. This can make it hard to adjust to campus life. Like the death of a pet, a separation can spark feelings of profound loss.
If coping is hard, talk it out with a counselor or health specialist. Don’t let feelings of sadness interfere with study and daily activities. Remembering you will be reunited again can help the hurt too.
One Is the Loneliest Number
Your pet was that little heartbeat at your feet. Now they aren’t there. Being away from family and friends can make that loneliness and separation feel even worse. One way to combat loneliness is to try video chatting with your pet. Set up a time with their caregiver. You’ll be able to see your loving friend and how they’re doing.
Lack of Companionship
During separation, pet parents experience the lack of close companionship with their beloved pets. A kitty on your lap while studying or your doting puppy always sleeping at your feet used to be the daily norm. When that goes away and there’s no more fluffy face staring back, it can trigger emptiness.
A solution? Get out and be social. Hang out in dog parks and pet watch. Or spend time around people who have pets.
Feelings of Detachment
Feel detached being away from your favorite fur baby? They are likely feeling a sense of detachment too. These feelings can lead to isolation and breaking away from daily routines that were once shared with each other. Push through and make an effort to continue those daily walks or head down to the beach for a run. Even though your pet isn’t with you, you can still do the things you used to do.
A Sense of Purpose
Maybe your dog was your reason for getting up at 5:45 each morning. Now that you don’t have to do that, you may be feeling like something is missing in life. Because pets can instill a sense of purpose in life, when those tasks and routines disappear, a void remains. One way is to volunteer at a shelter. Spend time with pets who need to be walked, bathed and transported. Head up an adoption fair by volunteering to match homeless pets and new owners.
Coping with the feelings of loss and anxiety from not having your pet with you can be devastating. Your feelings are valid, but you can get through it. Try being around animals and other people to help bridge the gap until you develop a new routine and adjust to college life.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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