If you have a pet, you will be aware that unfortunately, at some point, there will come a time where you will have to say goodbye to them. It is a heartbreaking experience that, however expected, can never be prepared for.
We know that a big part of pet ownership is eventually dealing with the loss of your pet. Just like grieving for a human family member or friend that you have lost, grieving for your pet takes time and will consist of a rollercoaster of emotions. Nothing that anyone can say will make you feel better during these days, but we have put together some advice on the best ways you can tackle pet bereavement.
Remember the stages of grief
It is really important when grieving for a pet, to remember to treat the process the same as you would if you had lost a family member or friend. We become very attached to our pets, and they really do feel like one of the family. Losing a pet has a huge impact on your everyday routine, and it can take quite a few weeks or even months to start getting used to them not being around. Remember the stages of grief:
- Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
- Pain and guilt. You may feel that the loss is unbearable and that you’re making other people’s lives harder because of your feelings and needs.
- Anger and bargaining. You may lash out, telling God or a higher power that you’ll do anything they ask if they’ll only grant you relief from these feelings.
- Depression. This may be a period of isolation and loneliness during which you process and reflect on the loss.
- The upward turn. At this point, the stages of grief like anger and pain have died down, and you’re left in a more calm and relaxed state.
- Reconstruction and working through. You can begin to put pieces of your life back together and carry forward.
- Acceptance and hope. This is a very gradual acceptance of the new way of life and a feeling of possibility in the future.
Look after your mental health
As with any traumatic experience or change in your life, it is really important to look after your mental health and wellbeing. Make sure that you keep yourself busy with activities that make you relaxed and happy, get some fresh air – even treat yourself to some luxurious food or drink. You need to give yourself some TLC so that you don’t feel too down. However, remember it is completely normal to feel upset about losing your pet.
Talk about your pet to others
I can guarantee that the majority of people have gone through the loss of a pet at some point in their lives. I can also guarantee that people will understand how you are feeling, and will be there to support you through this difficult time. Talking about how you’re feeling, and in fact, talking about memories you have of your pet, will make you feel so much better.
Create a memorial area in your garden
If you have a garden or outdoor space, a great way to help memorialise your pet is to bury them in a nice quiet corner where you can sit and remember them. I recently lost my tortoise and decided to bury him under one of our trees, with a plant on top. It has created a lovely memorial area for him that I can always remember him by. You don’t need to make it obvious and turn your garden into a pet cemetary, but something subtle that only you would know about is a lovely touch.
Donate their supplies to a rescue centre
If you have a lot of leftover food, treats, toys or bedding, a fantastic thing you can do is offer these to your local rescue centre. They will be very grateful for the donation as it will go a long way to helping the animal they are caring for. It will also help you to grieve, if having your pet’s supplies in the house is too upsetting for you.