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How to deal with the loss of a pet and the objects they leave behind

As a Professional Organizer, I often deal with the torrent of emotions clutter can bring out. Whether it’s items from a loved one who passed or reminders of happier times.

Psychologically, we protect ourselves without always realizing it. Sometimes in the form of shoving things in a closet or putting them away hoping we don’t have to deal with them. But, much like the physical space it takes up, the emotional space it takes up can prevent us from being open to new experiences or opportunities.

Recently, I found myself dealing with a loss and the possessions left behind. A few months ago, we lost our sweet dog Troy. He was a part of our family for 10 years and was a rescue mutt. A piece of our family is missing and it’s still painful to think about.

Our pets are more than companions; they are four legged family members. Dealing with their loss can be devastating especially when there are reminders everywhere in our home.

I put aside all of his toys, leashes, bowls, etc. and I gave his bed and crate to a dog charity right away. For me, I needed to not have the visible reminders that he was gone and not coming back. But, I didn’t want to throw these things away. I knew I needed to give myself time before I could make those decisions.

Recently, our Vet sent us a sweet card along with Troy’s footprints. We had no idea they did it and it was so touching to have them. And, I liked the fact that they waited a while to send it.

To honor him, I found a nice shadowbox and added his collar and toys. Now I have a sweet momento to remember him by and I am very glad that I didn’t throw everything out because it was too painful to deal with at that time.

By taking the time to deal with the clutter, we can deal with the emotions they bring as well. This can lift the weight physically and emotionally and give us a new path quite often literally.

Always allow yourself the time and space you need to process the feelings that may come up when going through belongings.

Take photos or create a memory box using pieces of the clothing or items. Then give it a proper place of honor. If the item is unique or very valuable but brings out too many emotions for you, find a family member who would appreciate being its new owner.

The bottom line is that you need to decide what’s holding you back when it comes to clutter and make decisions that are in your best interest. A lot of keepsakes aren’t really clutter and just need the proper respect paid so they can move on to their new home or owner.

A professional organizer can help you navigate these situations and make recommendations that give you peace of mind and help you move to the next phase in your life.

And since this one was personal for me, I will close by sharing my keepsake.

Troy, you were one of a kind and are missed more than you know. You were our mascot and perpetual employee of the month. The days are quieter without your bark letting everyone know you needed attention. Happy trails my sweet pup. I’ll see on you rainbow bridge one day.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I just saw this today, but you happened to post it the same week I said goodbye to my cat Tasha. I gave away all her things to my neighbours, who have three cats, but I don’t need those things to remember her. I love your tribute to Troy though!

    1. Janet, thank you! They really are four-legged family members. So sorry about your sweet Tasha.

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