Coping with the death of a family pet
It can be difficult to come to terms with the loss of a pet. We grow close to our pets, sharing a special bond with them – they are not just a cat or a dog, but a valued and much loved member of the family.
It’s important to grieve for your pet and approach this difficult period in a way that gives you the best chance to come to terms with your loss.
Petplan looks at some of the tried and trusted ways to ensure you are able to deal with this difficult time…
Everyone grieves differently
It’s important to remember that everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Some people will gradually come to terms with their loss on their own in a few weeks or months, but for others it can be a longer and more difficult process, so be patient.
A mixture of emotions is understandable and it is perfectly normal to feel sad, lonely or even frightened. It’s always best to show these emotions and avoid trying to ignore or hide them, keeping them bottled can make it harder in the long run.
Here are some suggestions on how to process grief:
- Don’t let others control your emotions. Your grief is your own and you can express it in a way which
helps you. It’s also ok to feel moments of joy during this time and you will move on fully when you are ready.
- Reach out to others who can help. Speak to friends or relatives who have experienced losing a pet, or try using a support group. Professional help is also available from bereavement councillors.
- Hold a funeral or memorial service. This can help provide a time to bring the family together to grieve, express feelings and bring closure.
- Create a memorial. Putting together a photo album or having a drawing created to keep their memory alive in your home can help you to always remember them whilst moving on.
- Look after yourself and try to maintain your normal routine as much as possible. Grief can be draining, but it can sometimes be worse to stop your routine as it will be harder to get back into the swing of things when you start to feel better. It also gives you a welcome distraction and help you concentrate on other areas of your life.
Helping a child grieve for a pet
The loss of a pet is often a child’s first experience of death, and it can be a scary and upsetting time for them. It’s normal for a child to look to blame someone or themselves after the death of an animal, but this is a good time to teach them how to cope with these emotions which they will inevitably feel at some point in their life.
Here are some helpful tips to support your child:
- Allow them to see your grief and to know it’s ok to feel sad. It’s important to make them feel as comfortable as possible with expressing how they are feeling about what has happened.
- Educate them. Use this time to teach them about the process of dying in a compassionate way so they understand it’s a normal part of life. Reassure them by being open and honest.
- Involve them as much as possible. Allow them to play a part in any funeral or memorial service you have so they can say goodbye to their pet.
- Do not rush to replace their pet. A replacement will not help them understand how to process loss, so take some time for them to accept their loss before moving on to a new animal.
Sadly, this is a common stage of life for most pet owners but, by addressing the issues rather than hiding from them, this period can be manageable and a time for sharing in great memories and moments.
If you do need any extra support or advice, then the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service is available to help you through this difficult time and can be contacted through their website or on 0800 096 6606.
Have you lost a pet? Have you got some advice for someone who has? Let us know in the comments below…