Guest Blog: Coping with the loss of a pet

Layla Beakhouse has written about dealing with the loss of a pet and how to help with the grieving process.

Following the loss of my best friend, who had been in my life for over 15 years and lived to the age of 21, I learnt that to many he was just considered as an animal, however, this wasn’t true as he was my best friend, a companion and part of the family.

I understood from this point that no lifespan would have ever been long enough to share with my best friend and family member. Also, that no other best friend/family member would be able to replace the indentation his paws left on my heart.

I have spent my life rescuing animals from all different walks of life, to now having five rescued cats and a rescued rabbit. All of these have left further paw prints on my heart and provided a whole new chapter to my life. These six furry terrors are all a massive part of the family and provide the best companionship possible.

The grief of loss

Upon realisation that pets become family and will never just be an animal to so many of us, I completed a Pet Bereavement Counselling Diploma as the grief felt when they pass is as real as the grief felt when a human family member passes.

When our best friend/family member passes, a piece of our heart goes with them until the day we will meet them again. However, this doesn’t stop the grieving process when they have passed, nor the empty space which we are left with.

We all provide the best life we can for our four-legged friends, and we all appreciate that the time they are with us will never be long enough, but how do we cope when they are gone?

The answer to this is there is no wrong or right way to cope with this loss. However, the grieving process is an important part of life, as we lose our routine, our companion, our best-friend, one of the family and the one who is always there regardless.

two cats sitting on a wooden tower

Helping with the grieving process

However, there are some things that you can do that can help through the grieving process:

  • Find a friend who understands and talk about your loss – do not feel guilty that this loss is an animal, as you they were never ‘just an animal’
  • For regular walks or other activities you both shared, carry on with this routine and remember the good times and the fun you had
  • Have a memory book/box to place pictures of your loving friend in, and when you remember good memories write these down (this is also helpful with children)
  • By yourself, with your family or with your children, collect photos and create a collage in memory of your loving family member who has passed
  • Create a memorial section in your garden, or your house, where you can sit and remember the precious times you had.

Remember – they will always be with you, and when you choose to get a new pet, do not feel guilty as they will also become a companion, a best friend and a valued family member, but they will never replace any who have passed. This will become a whole new chapter within your heart.

Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service

If you would like to speak somebody confidentially, the Blue Cross offers free, confidential support, their Pet Bereavement Support Service will be able to help you.

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