Sadly, death is an evitable part of pet ownership that at some point we all have to think about.
As with any bereavement, the death of a much loved pet can be devastating and an enormous loss. To some the pet may have become a member of the family, a companion, a friend, – and if you were close to your pet it is normal to have the reactions to their loss that you may experience in the death of a person i.e. shock, disbelief, anger, pain, hurt, sadness, guilt and overwhelming grief.
If you have to make a decision to have your pet put to sleep there can very often be an overwhelming feeling of guilt. However, making that decision shows the massive eternal love you had for them and the ability you had to put your pet’s care and wellbeing before your own thoughts of loss. They would understand that and if they could talk to you they would more than likely be saying thank you.
For some people losing a pet makes them feel sad and they will shed a few tears. For others the impact is huge and deep feelings of despair and loneliness can last for weeks to months. First reactions are of numbness and shock. When the full impact of a loss sinks in, you may experience really strong feelings of sadness.
As with any bereavement it is important for you to have someone to talk to who does understand what you are feeling and what the loss of your pet has meant to you. They contribute to our lives in many different ways in the form of companionship, relaxation, protection and exercise and they may even be a link with important events in our lives.
Talking about your feelings at the beginning may be difficult – meeting people in the street, family visiting, daily routines and empty food dishes can be painful reminders of the loss.
When the pain has eased a little and you begin to talk about your loved one and the many happy memories shared, the path to recovery has begun. Rather than deny these feelings it is important to acknowledge what your companion has meant to you and remember them fondly. They will never be forgotten. Throughout their time with you their love was unconditional and they gave you a chance to love them back. This is what matters, and although losing a pet is extremely difficult, you will always have special memories to cherish that nobody can take away.
Give yourself time to grieve and remember your pet in whichever way helps – talking, writing, looking at photos. Some people find that in time they want to get another pet but don’t rush into this as you need time to come to terms with your loss otherwise it may be something you regret doing too quickly.