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9 Tips to Help You Cope with Pet Loss

If you are reading this blog you know the excruciating pain of pet loss. You haven’t just lost your pet you have lost your friend, companion and family member.

Our most recent loss was this year when we made the difficult decision to euthanise our little Gold Coast cat Cheetah who was almost 20 years old. Over my life time I have lost many beloved cats and my one and only dog, Chloe (pictured above).

I hope the following tips will provide you some support and comfort with your grief and any difficult decisions you might be facing.  

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France


1/ Is it normal to hurt so much?

Yes! There is nothing silly, crazy, or too sentimental about grieving!

Your furry little friend played a significant role in your life. So it brought you comfort, support, joy, and unconditional acceptance. It is normal to experience all sorts of emotions; shock, denial, fear, anxiety, anger and many more. It really can feel like you are going crazy. 

2/ How do I cope with the emotions?

It is important to allow yourself to feel the emotions. 

Burying your emotions won’t help them pass. You need to express them! It’s ok for to feel distress and despair, and painful feelings of guilt and anger. Someone you loved has passed away, your feelings of loneliness and grief are real. 

It can be tempting to distract yourself from thinking about your pet, and at times this can be useful. But only long enough to give yourself some space to breathe. The fact is unexpressed emotions will impact on your emotional and physical health, at the very least sapping your energy and motivation. 

Here are some strategies other pet owners have found helpful:

♥   Reminisce on the great times you shared. In doing this, you allow yourself to know what your pet loss means for you. 

♥   Share their emotions and feelings in stories, poems or letters to their pet. 

♥   Rearrange your schedule to fill up the days that you’d have normally spent with your pet. 

♥   Prepare a memorial like a photograph collage, and speaking to other people about your loss.

3/ Who do I speak to?

Remember you are not alone, most pet owners have experienced what you are going through. Hopefully, you have loved ones or friends who love pets. Choose someone you genuinely feel comfortable with, someone who is comfortable with your tears. The best thing for you right now is to express exactly how much your pet meant to you and how much you miss them.

If you don’t have friends or family to talk to then seek the help of a counsellor. Your grief is very real. 

4/ When do I euthanize?

Assess your pet’s wellbeing honestly and unselfishly together with your vet. You might feel it is the wrong time if they are eating well, responding to you and still being playful. However, if your pet is in constant pain, receiving stressful treatments to prolong their survival and not fully aware of its environment you need to consider what is best for them. It really is the last act of love that you are able to make for your cherished companion.

5/ Do I stay during euthanization?

Staying can be a source of comfort for your pet and you. And to see them pass peacefully can help you accept they have gone. However, this isn’t always helpful as it can bring up uncontrollable emotions which can also be distressing for your pet. 

Consider what might be best for you and your furry friend, and share your needs and concerns with your vet. If your vet clinic is unable to help fulfill your wishes, then ask for a referral.

6/ What do I do next?

There are a number of options after your pet has passed. Things to keep in mind when you are making this decision are your living circumstances, personal and spiritual values, finances, and future plans. 

♥   Whether you pet dies at home or at the clinic you can request the vet take care of the remains. For some people this feels less distressing, especially if your pet was enthanized. 

♥   Many people like to bury their pet at home. It is more economical and you can chose the style of funeral. It might be as simple as choosing a shady spot under a tree, planting a special tree to mark the site or something more elaborate. Of course this might not be practical if you move a lot.

♥   Cremation is another affordable option. You can scatter their ashes in a favorite place, infuse them into decorative glass or keep them in a decorative urn. 

7/ What about my children?

How much you tell your children will depend on how much you think they can handle. What is important is they feel included.

Don’t be tempted to tell them their pet “went away,” as they may wonder if it was something they did to cause them to leave; and privately they may be waiting for them to return. Ensure it is crystal clear that the pet won’t be returning, but is very happy and free of pain. If you state that the pet was “put to sleep”, then make sure you explain the difference between this and regular sleep. 

Allow your children to express their emotions, and see yours. They are learning from you about how to to work through grief. Each family member needs permission to grief in their own way and at their own pace. 

8/ What about my other pets?

Most pets form strong attachments to each other. Therefore they are likely to notice the absence of a companion, whether it is your cat grieving your dog or dog grieving your cat. So give them extra attention during this time. This will also benefit you, helping with your healing process. 

9/ Should I get another pet?

It is common for friends and family to suggest getting a new pet. However, it takes time to process the loss of a furry friend. So if you are still feeling overwhelmed it would be wise to delay this option. If you do it too soon you may feel that you are being disloyal to your past pet or even resentful they have replaced them. This can be particularly true for children.

Choosing a new pet: When you are ready to get a new furry friend be careful about choosing a “look-a-like” pet. And avoid making comparisons between your new pet and your last one. Its important to allow your new pet to develop its own character.

For strategies on managing grief across the Christmas period Click Here.

Poem for the Grieving

In Blackwater Woods

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go. ~ Mary Oliver

Seeking help after pet loss

If you don’t have friends or family to talk on the Gold Coast I would love the opportunity to help you work with some of your feelings and keep you moving forward in this challenging time. Bear in mind, your grief is real and worthy of support.

Lets Talk

If you are struggling with a painful loss, then please call me for a Free 15 minute consultation. We can talk about what is going on for you and I can answer any questions you might have. If I am with a client I will get back to you as soon as I can.

or if you are ready to book now

Lets Talk

If you are struggling with a painful loss, then please call me for a Free 15 minute consultation. We can talk about what is going on for you and I can answer any questions you might have. If I am with a client I will get back to you as soon as I can.

or if you are ready to book now

Mindfulness Quiz:
How present are you in your life?

Mindfulness Quiz:
How present are you in your life?


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