Grief is a place that none of us know about until we get there (anon)
Everyone deals with the loss of their beloved pet in different ways. There is no timescale to deal with grief and there are some excellent support networks available if you feel you would like more support.
With grief, you may feel several different emotions, or mainly one. You can feel numb, guilt, anger, sadness or relief. All of these are perfectly normal.
Some people find celebrating their pet’s life can be helpful. If you have their ashes, scattering them in a favourite place or planting a flowering shrub in the garden to remember them by can help.
There are many memorial pet sites available where you can upload a photo of your pet and pay tribute to them. We would love to hear and share in your memories about them on our Forget Me Not Facebook Group page. This can all help with the grief process.
Sharing your grief, talking about your pet and remembering the many wonderful times you shared will help enormously.
Children can feel grief very strongly when they lose their beloved pet. The way in which children, young people and those around them deal with pet loss may lay the foundation for how they cope with other losses later in life. The timing of getting another pet is important. Getting another pet immediately won't take away the pain. Talk it through with them and make sure any new pet is not seen as a replacement. Where possible we do advise you are honest with them but you are the best judge of how much to say. It is best not to use phrase like 'putting to sleep' or 'went away' as this can cause fear and anxiety as children can take different meanings from the words. There are various books and sites available which may help you explain the situation to your children.
Missing My Pet by Alex Lambert
Goodbye Mousie by Robie H Harris
Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas
Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker
Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh
Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr
Blue Cross Bereavement - Missing My Friend
Other pets in your household may also feel grief. Sometimes allowing your other pets to see and smell their companion’s body can help them understand what has happened. Keep up their routines and activity levels and if they show a change in behaviour, for example sleeping all the time and not eating, it is best to come and see us just to make sure everything is ok.
Many owners feel they don’t want to get another pet as the sense of loss is too much or they feel they are betraying their pet’s memory. In time hopefully you will feel ready to offer a loving home to another pet and there are many that do need one!
Owners can be worried later in life that it is not fair to get another pet but they bring so much love and joy to your life that this shouldn’t always be the case. The Cinnamon Trust is a brilliant trust that can help you with short term care if you need to go into hospital or permanent care if your pet was to outlive you.
Many charities are also always in need of volunteers to come and spend time with the animals in their care. For example Cats Protection often ask for help in socialising cats in their care or some dog charities require dog walkers. These can all be helpful aids in dealing with grief while allowing you to spend time with some furry friends.
Please talk to us if you are struggling to deal with grief. We have a Saying Goodbye support pack with useful details of who to talk to and where to find support. Remember you are not alone.