If you’ve unfortunately had the experience of the loss of a pet, it can be hard to imagine what comes next; the stage of grief can at times seem overwhelming, and there will no doubt be those who cannot understand your feelings. This is a completely acceptable stage of loss, and should not be viewed as weakness or an oddity – everyone deals with grief in different ways, so what works as helpful advice for one person may not work for you. Here is our guide with some tips to help you with your loss.
Talk About Your Feelings
You can be expected to undergo a range of emotions after losing a pet,– all of these are completely natural and normal, and if dealt with properly need not become a hindrance to your everyday life. Try and be as completely honest as possible about your feelings,bottling up any grief about losing your pet will only make the process harder. Find someone that you are comfortable talking to – if they can listen and reassure you, all the better, but sometimes even letting those emotions find a voice is relief enough.
If you can express yourself through a medium such as art, let your imagination run free. Prose, poetry, art and even photography can all be ways to help, and this is a fantastic method to allow the other members of your family who are grieving to take a part in dealing with the loss. A family collage of a pet can be a fantastic way to honour their memory, and it allows everyone to choose their favourite pictures, meaning that everyone can have their say in what aspects of the pet are remembered.
Breaking the News to Your Children
If you have children, it will be entirely up to you as to how and when you want to tell them that their pet has moved on. Obviously, this can make things difficult for you, but you cannot leave this for too long before they will question the disappearance of their own accord. You may feel that younger children should be dealt with in a more gentle approach, but older children, especially teenagers, may prefer it if you use a more direct approach and treat them as adults. It may be upsetting, but they will often prefer this kind of treatment.
Other Areas of Support outside Family and Friends
Finding someone to talk to is a vital part of the grieving process, and if your family members or friends are not able to connect with you on your grief (and it’s not their fault if they don’t understand, especially if they haven’t gone through the same experience) there are plenty of other options; your vet can recommend a pet loss counsellor or support group.. At no stage are you expected to deal with this alone, and there are people out there that understand and can help you.
There are various options on how to say goodbye to your pet. Some people may prefer to have their friend buried in their garden as a reminder of how wonderful their pet was during their lifetime. Other prefer to have their pet cremated and spread the ashes over a favourite walk or place of their pet’s. You can take the time to consider how you’d like to say goodbye to your pet properly, and your vet will always be able to help you make that decision.
When to Get a New Pet
Finally, it is suggested that getting a new pet straight away is not necessarily the best idea – you need to give yourself time to heal before you make the step and purchase a new pet, not only so that you can be done with your grief, but in order to stop any chance of your new pet becoming a replacement for the pet you have lost rather than a separate pet in its own right. Only get a new pet when you are ready to move forward with your life and can be sure not to draw parallels between the new pet and your old one, allowing the new to grow and develop its own personality and traits, and you can begin to work on developing a life-long relationship of commitment and love with your new pet.
Grieving is a long and painful process, but if you follow the right steps you can soon overcome this obstacle and become stronger because of it. This is part and parcel of owning pets, and we honour the memories of our past pets in our loving and considerate natures for any of those animals that we care for who come afterwards.