Every pet owner will go through the loss of their pet at some point or the other, and this loss isn't less than devastating for most people. Pets are part of our family and can be one’s best friend. Dealing with the loss of a pet can be excruciatingly painful and you may find it very difficult to get through the day as you usually would. It can take weeks and even months to get over this loss and feel a semblance of normalcy in your life.
There is no need to be embarrassed by the grief and sadness that you feel and the need to mourn the death of your loved pet. This process is a very natural one and in most cases, the only way to deal with what you are experiencing is to go through the motions and let the feeling fade on its own.
How to deal with the grief
Understanding exactly what you are going through is one of the best ways to deal with your pain and grief and you have to learn how to cope with it. Grief has many stages and you may go through feelings ranging from shock and frustration as well as anger and deep sadness. It’s important to understand that all these feelings are part of the healing process and that you don’t try to suppress them. Every person grieves differently; regardless of the level of hurt, the grief still takes its toll.
Overcoming the guilt
Some pet parents have to make the decision to put their pets to sleep (euthanasia) and this can cause them to feel a significant amount of guilt. But there is another angle to the situation that you should look at when you feel this type of guilt. You should consider yourself fortunate that you were able to offer this to your beloved pet to spare them from any pain or suffering. This thought will help you get through that feeling of guilt, allowing you to accept that what you did was right for your pet.
Look for support
You may also sometimes find that people around you don’t share the deep sorrow you are feeling and aren’t as understanding or supportive. Some may even go to the extent of stating that you are overreacting to the situation and say things like “It was nothing more than a pet “ or “ Isn’t it time you got over this by now?”. However, your pet was a significant part of your life; most people, especially ones that haven’t had pets, won’t be able to comprehend or appreciate the depth of feelings you harbour.
One of the best ways to deal with this loss is to connect with others that have suffered a similar loss at some point in their lives; they would be able to understand the grief you are feeling and will offer some empathy as well. It's also important that you look after yourself in this period as the sadness and stress can make you feel tired and drained of energy, affecting the way you function. Maintain a good diet, sleep and exercise as this will help you get stronger each day.
If you have some other pet/s, it’s even more crucial that you maintain a normal routine around them as the situation can take its toll on them too. Pets can feel your emotions so the stronger you are for them the better they and you will be. They too may be suffering from grief if they have also lost their friend. Remember the good times you spent with your beloved pet and do something in their memory.
Here’s a lovely poem by Suzanne Taylor:
My Forever Pet
Pet Loss Counselling
If you are struggling with losing your pet there are Pet Loss Counsellors that you can go and talk with to help you along this journey. I met a very nice lady a few weeks ago called Vicky Nonas who is a qualified counsellor providing support for people of all ages, both young and older, who are dealing with expected or unexpected pet loss, or with a pet’s terminal diagnosis.
Vicky has also experienced her own grief when losing her beloved pets, which motivates her passion.
“Losing a pet can be catastrophic and deeply painful. Talk therapy can be very helpful whilst navigating through this unpredictable time. And one of the things I like to highlight with clients is their ever-lasting relationship with the loving memory of their beloved pet. Therapy may include a client bringing a part of the memory of their pet such as, a blanket, collar, toy, photos etc. to assist with the healing process.
The Cottage I work from is warm and welcoming. I provide a safe space for people to express their feelings of grief and loss. We provide tea and coffee and if a client prefers, we have the luxury of having a counselling session under the shade of a beautiful oak tree with blankets and pillows provided. I also offer general counselling services. Visit my website for more details or to book an appointment.”
Vicky Nonas, Prof. Counsellor, M.A.C.A, M.P.C.A
By My Side – Counselling and Pet Loss Support www.bymyside.net.au
Our pets live forever in our hearts
Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.