Just as grief is a personal experience, the decision of when to bring a new pet into your home is also a personal one. Some people are comfortable getting a new pet within days of losing the old pet, others may take months and even years, or may never get another pet again. There are no simple guidelines that fit everyone’s situation.
Bringing a new pet into the home before all family members have resolved their grief may imply to those still grieving that the life of the deceased pet has not been properly respected and honored. All those in the home should be ready to accept a new pet relationship before moving forward. This will require open and compassionate conversations. Other animals in the household also often grieve the loss of their former companion. Therefore, before contemplating adding a new pet, you may want to consider if a new pet will help them or add to their stress.
Each animal has his or her own distinctive personality and a new animal cannot replace the one you lost. You may love a certain breed or coloring, but be aware that just because you adopt another animal that may look like your lost one, the new one will not be an exact copy of your previous pet. He or she will be unique and you, your family and other pets will form new and different relationships with the new family member. If you and your family take the time to grieve and consider the responsibilities associated with new pet ownership before looking for a new pet, you will know if and when the time is right to start over. For additional information, Moira Allen, M.Ed. has written an excellent article, “How Soon Should You Get a New Pet?”