A pet becomes part of the family, it offers companionship, loyalty and affection. It can be very difficult to deal with the loss of a much loved pet, but sadly it is something that all pet owners will eventually have to face.
The death of a pet can be devastating for children and adults alike, but it may be difficult for friends and colleagues who do not have pets to understand why you feel so sad.
This may in turn cause you to feel more isolated and it may make the sadness harder to cope with.
As well as losing your pet, you may also lack structure to your day as there is no longer a need to go for walks, to prepare food or to observe other familiar routines.
Facing The Death of a Pet…
If your pet has a serious health problem you will will hope to prolong his life with medication or treatment, but a time will come when you have to think seriously about the animal’s quality of life and you may reach the reluctant decision that euthanasia is the kindest option.
I faced this decision when my dog Jimmy developed cancer of the jaw, it was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but however painful I knew it was the kindest option.
Express your Grief
Do not feel ashamed of your feelings, we are all different, some people cry and feel better for it, others find it harder to shed tears and they prefer to talk about their feelings or to express them through poetry or music. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
If there are children in the family, it may be their first encounter with death and they will need your support to understand and accept the finality of their loss.
My daughter was nine when Jimmy died and she expressed her feelings in a poem, it was a very sad, but it helped her to make sense of her feelings.
Understand Your Feelings
We all experience and express grief differently, but it is important to understand that you will experience many jumbled emotions including denial, anger, guilt and sorrow before you come to a gradual acceptance of your loss.
Pets Have Feelings Too
If you have other pets they may react to the absence of the pet that has died, animals form strong attachments and it will take time and reassurance from you for the remaining pet to adjust.
Do Something Practical
You may want to bury the animal (if local laws allow this) or you may choose to arrange with your vet to have the animal cremated. We chose to have Jimmy cremated by a pet cremation service, some of his ashes were scattered on some beautiful parkland and I also had some shot into space on Heritage memorial spaceflights 2017. Yes, it may seem extravagant and it was expensive, but it’s what I needed to heal.
Some people like to remember the animal by planting a special tree or shrub or by making a donation to an animal charity.
Do whatever helps you to deal with your loss.
In time you may consider taking on a new pet. It will not replace the old one, it will have it’s own personality and it’s own needs. Remember that you will be making a long term commitment to the new pet, so take your time and don’t let well meaning friends rush you into making a decision.
If you decide on a new pet, please think seriously about adopting one of the many animals in need of rehoming.