Coping with the loss of your pet…

Many people have suffered the loss of a loved one at some time in their lives and have had to find a way of coping with that loss. Losing your pet is no different as we spend lots of time with them, watching them grow and play. We make sure we look after them by keeping them safe and seeking advice when they are sick, just as you or I would with a family member or friend.

Because our pets form a large part of our lives when it is time to say goodbye to them it leaves a big hole in our hearts. Daily routines are no longer there, our pets no longer greet us as they used to do. Pets give us love and affection in return for ours, they help us through sad/difficult times and they are a great friend when we need to talk to someone. It is understandable that when we lose this connection we feel lost and grief stricken.

Here at Honeysuckle Vets we like to take care of our clients well-being as well as their pets, especially when they are experiencing a loss. Please let us reassure you that whatever you feel and when it is a natural response to the loss you have suffered. You may have family and friends who also have to cope with loss too. For this very reason we have put together information that we hope will help you, and others, through this daunting time.

Grief Reactions…

Many people react in many different ways when they have lost their pet, you may even experience additional reactions not listed below. Some people also experience grief even before their pet had passed away because they anticipate what will happen, all of which are perfectly natural.

There are sometimes strong deep feelings that we experience such as numbness – we feel disbelief and are unable to comprehend what we are experiencing. We may yearn for our pet resulting in what we perceive to be a physical pain inside us. Some people experience denial and anger and perhaps a difficulty to accept what is happening, as well as strong feelings of guilt. People may feel guilty for having to make the decision to put their pet to sleep even if the reason was to prevent suffering and was the kindest gesture they could make for their pet.

Emotional reactions such as sadness, shock, and depression are all very common. Sometimes we start to think very deeply and perhaps become introverted, feeling less sociable than we would usually. We may seek information about the illness/injury from which our pet suffered to reassure ourselves that we did the right thing, we may repeat or go over things in our minds that we or the vet or other people said in relation to our pet, we may even re-run the events of that particular day over in our minds too. Some people may turn to or even away from religion.

Physical reactions we may experience are crying, insomnia – being unable to sleep, tiredness/lethargy, agitation or an inability to sit still. Illness such as vomiting and/or diarrhoea or becoming susceptible to colds are common, we may even find ourselves searching for our pets in and around our home.

Past experiences…

Our past experiences of loss can also re-surface during this time. We may have similar feelings to what we have felt before. Whether we lost a family member or friend or another pet it does not matter, passed experiences will have an influence on us later in life. This may mean that we understand what we are going through to some extent, it could also mean re-living upsetting moments or memories that have until now lay dormant. We never forget our experiences of loss but it is quite natural when we suffer a recent loss that painful memories of the passed will be brought to the forefront of our minds and re-experienced.

Expressing feelings and emotions…

As many people will agree, it is important that you are able to talk about your experiences with someone who understands what you are feeling. Of course every person is different in that their relationship with their animal will be unique to them and so you may want to talk about particular things you did together as companions to help people understand even more about you and what your experiences together. Family and friends are usually good listeners for who many turn to for help. But sometimes we can find this relationship too close to us and may even feel in some circumstances that we may be judged for how we have lived with our pets and the choices we have had to make for them. This may leave us feeling isolated and result in worsening feelings of anxiety, sadness or depression.

Finding the right help for you…

The Pet Bereavement Support Service is a confidential service run by fully trained volunteers in association with The Blue Cross. They will listen and help you with no judgement or opinions. The PBSS help people who not only have lost their pet through death, but other circumstances too. If you would like to contact the Pet Bereavement Support Service you may do so on 0800 096 6606 between the hours of 8:30am and 8:30pm or email them at pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk they will help you confidentially and at no cost to you.

Our team here at the surgery are also more that happy to talk with you about your pet and your experiences openly if you prefer this and feel that it would help you in your time of grief.

We can be contacted on 01308 862312 or by emailing us at girlingbowditch@aol.com , we will help you confidentially and without judgment or opinions.