As with any bereavement the death of a much-loved pet can be very upsetting and an enormous loss. To many, a pet becomes a member of the family, a companion and a special friend. If you were close to your pet, it’s normal to have the same reactions to its loss that you may experience in the death of a person. It’s likely you will feel shock, overwhelming sadness, pain and guilt. This is because the depth of grief that someone feels usually reflects the significance of the loss. Your pet will have been around you every day and you will have built up a very strong relationship. So, its loss will be felt very deeply.
It can sometimes be hard for others to understand the extent to which the loss of your beloved pet may be affecting you and it’s not uncommon to hear “it was only a dog” or “you can easily get another one”. As with any bereavement it’s important for you to have someone to talk to who understands what the loss of your pet has meant to you.
It may be particularly difficult if you were in the position of having to have your pet put to sleep. That’s a heartrending decision to have to make. However, making that decision shows the love you had for your pet by putting your pet’s care and wellbeing before your own loss. When a pet we love is ill and suffering, there is no other choice but making the decision to have their life ended with dignity and humanely to end any suffering.
Give yourself time to grieve and remember your pet in whichever way helps – talking, writing or looking at photos. You could also create a ‘memory box’ – a special box to keep mementos (such as their lead and collar) and photos to look at, whenever you want to.
Some people find in time that they want to get another pet. Try not rush into this as you need time to come to terms with your loss or it may be something you regret doing too quickly. If you’ve a lot of love to give to another pet and can give them a good and loving home that would be a wonderful thing to do. When the time’s right for you. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into having another pet until you’re ready – if you are ready – that’s your choice.
Leeds Bereavement Forum directory has support for pet bereavement.