Grieving The Loss Of A Pet

Written by Chloe Harwood

For many people, a pet is as much a part of the family as a child, but unlike children, who are expected to outlive their parents, we realize that we are going to have say goodbye to our pets after only a few years, or if we are lucky, a decade or so. Knowing this does not make the parting any easier.

Just why do we love our pets so much? After all, they are only animals. However, this is not true for the majority of us. The reason that we have a pet is that we feel the need to care for another creature, and we want that creature to enhance our lives by providing companionship and even love. For those people without children, pets can become children substitutes, a creature upon whom we can impart our motherly and fatherly feelings.

Investing so much personally in another creature has its drawbacks, and that is learning how to cope without them when they pass away. Losing a pet can be traumatic, as it is often up to the owner to decide when that life ends. Most of us hope that our beloved pet will end its days by passing away peacefully in its sleep, but this is rarely the case. More often than not, our pet becomes ill, and it is up to us to make the decision to end its suffering and have it euthanized. This alone can be a hugely traumatic experience.

Then comes the issue of how to deal with the euthanized pet. Do you simply leave it at the vets, or do you make arrangements so that you can say goodbye properly? Fortunately, there are several options. If you have a garden, you can bring your beloved pet home and have a burial in your own grounds. An alternative is to arrange a company to perform a pet cremation, just like a human cremation, and take home their ashes or scatter them over ground that holds a special significance for you both.

What about after, when the pet is no longer walking around, making us smile, making us laugh? This is when the loss really hits us. It is important to know that it is perfectly acceptable to cry for the loss of your pet. Ignore anyone who says that it is nonsensical to grieve for an animal. What do they know about the bond that you had?

Share the sad news with your nearest and dearest. You may be surprised by the amount of sympathy that you receive because other people will understand your loss. Though it may hurt, do remember your lost pet. Place framed photographs around your home to remind you of them, and perhaps even start a scrapbook.

However, do not be tempted to get another pet straight away. Pets should not be things that you can easily replace, and you may find yourself emotionally compromised if you try to fill the gap in your life too soon. Try volunteering at an animal shelter for a time instead until you feel ready to take another animal into your home.

A pet can have a huge impact on our life, and it would be doing their memory a disservice if we did not allow ourselves to grieve when we lose them. They have given us so much, so it is only fitting that we do all that we can to say goodbye properly and allow a tear or two to fall when we think of them.

About the author

Chloe Harwood