Saying goodbye to a pet is extremely hard and can be an emotional time as our pets or often seen as another family member; we spend a lot of time with them and for lots of people they can be the only source of companionship. Many people find coping with the loss of a pet particularly painful when there is no one to talk to or share the same feeling with, those who don’t have pets can often find it difficult to identify with the emotions that go with the loss of a pet.
We are often faced with difficult situations where our pets have ill health or injury and therefore with the question when is the right time to let them go?
This is one of the hardest decisions you face as a pet owners but you must think about the quality of life for your pet and what the future looks like, with or without treatment etc. Your vet should always advocate for the animal and will be less emotionally connected; they will give you all of the information necessary for the treatment of your animal and will talk through all options available. If you don’t like what you are hearing, you can of course get a second opinion.
You can feel sad, lonely or even guilty about decisions you have made. These are valid feeling to have and must be treated like any other bereavement; our pets may not be human but are no less a friend and are important to you and your family. Take the time to grieve and try not to shut yourself away, talk to a friend if possible and if necessary seek counselling. Remembering your pet once they have gone is a good thing, it is difficult to think about but usually comforting to have a place or memento to remind you of them. Many people have ashes buried in the garden or scattered in their favourite place however a simple photo or special candle to light can create a space just for them to be remembered.
Some of us feel like the empty space left behind needs to be filled straight away, others feel like they need time to grieve before getting another pet. This new pet is not a replacement but a new addition, make sure you are ready for another animal in your life and try to remember this animal will not be the same as the one your lost.
Many charities such as the Blue Cross now offer a pet bereavement service which is confidential and if you struggle to talk to friends and family, this may be the perfect outlet for you. Most pet owners have experienced the loss of a pet and will completely understand this traumatic time, the time we have with our pets is short but they give us so much more in return and we are grateful for the time we have.