Saying goodbye to the family pet can be devastating for everyone, and yet bereavement for a pet can often be overlooked in comparison to the death of a family friend or relative. Whether you are the one grieving, or you know someone who is going through it, it’s important not to sweep the emotions under the carpet.
Allow yourself to grieve
Losing a pet can be just as upsetting and traumatic as losing a family member. Allow yourself time to grieve, and surround yourself with people who understand your grief, or who have been through something similar.
Try not to feel guilty
Whether you lose a pet to a terminal illness or due to an accident, you can find yourself riddled with guilt. Feelings of guilt are natural, but they can also be destructive. Try and focus on what you did right for your pet, and the happiness you gave them throughout their life. Being the person responsible for deciding to euthanise your pet can bring a dreadful weight of responsibility. You must not feel guilty when making this decision, but remember it’s an act of love and selflessness.
Helping children cope
It’s usually best to be as open and honest with children as possible. Don’t shy away from the reality of death, and allow them to grieve with you. You should also make sure you let their teachers and their friends’ parents know, so that they can be sensitive to the situation.
Will other pets grieve?
Pets can be very sensitive and are likely to mourn in their own way. If you know a pet is likely to pass in the near future, you can introduce a new pet before they go to help with the transition. If you decide to introduce a new pet after they have gone, be sensitive to the fact that any remaining pets may struggle to accept them initially.
When a pet dies, you have to decide how to handle the remains. You can either ask your vet to deal with it, or you can carry out a home burial. There are also pet cemeteries that will offer a formal burial or cremation, which can help with the grieving process. It’s a good idea to make plans in advance and put aside some money if necessary.
The medical costs of a dying pet can escalate quickly, so it’s a good idea to consider having pet insurance to deal with this eventuality. Using PayingTooMuch.com will help you find the right policy for your circumstances.
If you are struggling with the death of a pet, there are some Pet Bereavement services such as www.livingwithpetbereavement.com and www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-support. They provide free and confidential support.