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Coping with losing a pet

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Your pets are part of the family and you treat them like your own children, so we understand how difficult it is when you lose a pet. As with any bereavement it can be devastating and an huge loss. Your pet may have been a close companion, a friend or a dog that you go walking with. It is normal to experience reactions that may be associated with loss or grief. For example, you may feel shocked or hurt, sadness, guilt and even an overwhelming sense of loss.

You may have had to make a tough decision to put your pet to sleep due to illness. This shows that you are thinking of the wellbeing of your pet before your own thoughts and can be an incredibility difficult decision to make.

Coping with the loss of your pet

  • Give yourself time to grieve for your pet. You may find it helps talking to other people who have been through a similar situation, writing down your thoughts or even remembering your pet’s life by looking at photos.
  • Express and make room for your emotions. Talking about how you feel, whether that’s to a family member, friend or support online it’s important to allow yourself to feel a range of different emotions.
  • Finding support online or talking to someone that can help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and relatives for support. You can also find help online through the below support services.

Support Services

  • Animal Samaritans Pet Bereavement Service website. They offer help and advice for anyone dealing with the grief of losing a beloved pet and allows owners to talk about their pets and their grief.
  • Cats Protection Paws To Listen and Grief Support website. They provide a confidential phone line providing emotional and practical support to owners experiencing the loss of a cat. While the volunteer listeners do not offer counselling, the team provides a supportive ear to callers struggling to cope with cat-related grief as well as providing information about topics such as euthanasia, burial and cremation.
  • EASE Pet Loss Support Services website. Offer a wide range of support resources, covering different aspects of grief in pet bereavement.
  • Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service website.

Moving forward after the loss of a pet

Everyone is different when dealing with the loss of a pet and you may want to consider taking to the following steps that can help you cope as time goes on.

  • Find a pet support group where you can talk openly to other people who have dealt with the loss of a pet. It can help you to understand other people’s experiences and how they have coped.
  • Help other pets. Volunteering time to your local shelter or animal charity can make you feel good about giving back and helping other animals. There are other ways of helping by supporting your local dog walking company or donating items such as blankets and food to animal charities if you don’t have the time to volunteer.
  • Create a photo or memory book to honour your pet. To celebrate their life you can collate all of the memories you’ve had with them in a photo book. This doesn’t have to be a physical collection, it can be created on online or you can even create an Instagram page dedicated to them. Creating a collage, book or online account will help you to embrace the good memories and can act as closure.
  • Practice ongoing self-care. It’s extremely difficult when you lose a pet but it’s also important to remember to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise and eat a healthy diet which can help you to cope with things much easier than not doing any of these.
  • Look into getting another pet. At first you might be thinking about getting a new pet, but it’s important to take time to grieve for your loss. It’s not recommended to get a pet immediately because you won’t have given yourself, your family or other pets the space and time to fully grieve. Take your time, it’s a big decision, only you know when it will be right to explore the possibility of getting a pet.

By Melissa Pickburn

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