Coping with the Loss of Your Pet

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Coping with the loss of a pet is a very emotional and difficult experience, but it’s important to understand that it is completely normal to grieve in the same way you would a person. After all, they spent their lifetime giving you love, laughter and joy.

Everybody handles the emotions of losing a pet differently. For you, your pet was never “just a pet” – they were a much-loved member of your family. They cheered you up when you were down, welcomed you through the door when you returned home, and made you laugh doing the things they were told not to do – like digging up the garden or playing with the curtains!

So when you have sadly had to say goodbye to your companion, how do you try to cope? We’ve put together some coping mechanisms that you can use to help you and your family through this difficult time…

Put pen to paper

Expressing your feelings through a diary is a good way to heal your sorrow. It can help you remember the good times you shared with your best friend, and writing things down will allow you to release your thoughts if you don’t want to express them out loud.

Organise a ceremony

A step towards healthy healing can include celebrating the life of your pet through a ceremony. A funeral provides you with closure and it’s a good way to gather your friends and family who were touched by your pet’s presence and can be there to support you.

Create a memorial

Memorials are a thoughtful way to remember and celebrate your pet’s life. You could pull your favourite photos of you and your pet into a scrapbook so your memories forever remain in your home, or you could plant a tree or a flower in your garden.

Other ways of remembering your pet include buying a plaque or purchasing a piece of jewellery that has your pet’s name engraved on a charm.

Keep talking

It can be hard for other people to be your shoulder to cry on if they don’t understand the bond you shared with your animal companion. It’s not uncommon to hear some people say “they were just a pet” or “why don’t you get another one?”

Seek comfort in people who understand what you are going through and will help you talk about your feelings.

Try something new

The absence of a pet means there could be a gap in your day-to-day routine. You might be used to going for daily walks, or feeding them at certain times of the day, so you may feel a little empty. Try to fill your time with new activities. These will help you to focus your thoughts elsewhere.

Take care of yourself and your family

The stress of losing a pet can take up a lot of your energy, so it’s important to look after your physical wellbeing and that of your family. Remember to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly; these will really help to boost your mood.

Care for other pets

If you have another pet, the change in circumstances could affect them, too. They may refuse to eat or drink, or they could suffer from lethargy. Your emotional state will have an effect on their mood, so give them lots of love, and stick to the routine they are used to.

When the time is right for you and your family to move on, perhaps you could consider getting a new pet. Remember though, your new pet won’t replace the pet you lost. Every animal is different, so take the time to embrace your new family member. Your local animal shelter or rescue centre is the perfect place to find your next companion.

There are a number of excellent pet bereavement support services out there to help you, too, and we have listed them here for you:

Animal Samaritans
www.animalsamaritans.org.uk
0208 303 1859

Blue Cross
www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-support 
0800 096 6606

Cats Protection
www.cats.org.uk/grief

Compassion Understood
www.compassionunderstood.com

The Ralph Site
www.theralphsite.com

We understand that you may feel like this sorrow will never end. Please don’t be afraid to seek advice from a member of our team at your local Medivet practice – we are here to support you and your family through this difficult time.

Posted August 23, 2016 by Cara Zaleski in Pet Care Advice

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