How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet
Those who have lost a beloved pet will know the pain can be as heart wrenching as the loss of a family member or friend. For many couples, the family pet becomes another child, just one with four legs and a tail who doesn’t answer back. Many of us also find comfort and friendship in our pets throughout the highs and lows of day to day life, so the passing of a pet can be extremely painful.
It’s okay to be sad
Take the time to process what has happened and allow yourself to be sad. This is especially important if you have children who may be experiencing this kind of loss for the first time and might struggle to understand.
Pet owners often have to make the difficult decision to have their pets put to sleep when their health deteriorates too far to be helped. This adds another aspect to the grief as some may feel guilty for having to make that decision, or as though they could have done things differently. Discuss the events with your vet, as they will be able to reassure you that you did the right thing.
Don’t feel ashamed for any sadness you feel. Many people may not understand or be sympathetic towards the sadness when we lose a pet, but that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to feel upset. If you think it would help you to take a couple of days off work to grieve, do so. Pets who have been in your home for years leave a big hole, and feelings of loneliness and emptiness are completely normal.
Confide in your family and friends about how you feel, but if you do not think they understand, seek the support of organisations such as Blue Cross and Cats Protection who provide grief support helplines.
If they were your only pet, consider moving your pet’s bed, food bowls, toys and other belongings into a garage or shed so they are out of sight. Throwing these in the bin straight away can be difficult so don’t rush, just put them away so there is one less reminder in the home.
If you have another pet, keep a close eye on them for signs of depression and loneliness. Consult a vet if you believe your pet’s behaviour has changed drastically and shows no sign of improvement.
Some people choose to rescue or adopt another pet soon after the loss, as the home can feel empty without them. However, others find this feels too much like attempting to replace them. Consider rescuing a different type of pet, e.g. if you have lost a dog, why not rescue a cat instead. That way you are not at all replacing your previous pet, but you are offering a cat in need a happy home.
We are all guilty of taking lots of photos of our pets, and this is the time to put those photos to use. Find your favourites and prepare a photo album, or get a canvas printed, so they can still be a part of your home. Other things you could do in memory of your pet are plant a tree or flower in their favourite garden spot, read or write a poem, make a donation to a pet charity which means a lot to you, or volunteer at a local rescue shelter.
Pawprints Left By You – By Vayda Venue
You no longer greet me
As I walk through the door,
You’re not there to make me smile,
To make me laugh anymore,
Life seems quiet without you,
You were far more than a pet,
You were a family member, a friend,
A loving soul i’ll never forget.
It will take time to heal,
For the silence to go away,
I still listen for you ,
And miss you everyday,
You were such a great companion,
Constant, loyal, and true,
My heart will always wear,
The pawprints left by you.