Bereavement and Losing Your Pet
It is no exaggeration to say that most people consider their pets a member of the family. They provide companionship, affection and unconditional love. No matter what an owner goes through, they know that their pets will always be there for them with a wet nose and a warm tongue. Many cats and dogs are with their families from a very early age and children often grow up never knowing life without their loving pet. A sad fact of nature is that our pets simply do not live as long as us, with the average lifespan being 15 years for a cat and 12 years for a dog, meaning that at some point we will have to deal with their loss. We spoke to our pet health experts to find out more about one of the most painful aspects of pet ownership.
Don’t Prolong the Pain
Just like human beings, pets can suffer a number of health issues the older they get. Vets might provide the most up-to-date care and medication but sometimes this can’t ease an animal’s suffering. Consider euthanasia*; discuss the importance of making the decision, to prevent any further pain. The animal may be sedated and then injected with a barbiturate. It is effectively an anaesthetic overdose and the pet will just drift off to sleep. They can then be either buried at home or cremated.
Coming to Terms with the Loss
Once the pet is at peace, you will then be faced with the harsh reality of the fact. Your house will seem emptier and less full of life and even the smallest parts of your daily routine will change. This loss can then cause a number of feelings, so it might be helpful to be aware in advance. Loss of a pet may lead to;-
Talk to family members and friends about these issues. Although they might seem trivial, be assured that they’re not and it will always feel better to share the loss.
If somebody close to you passes away, then you need to be given time to grieve before you can get on with your life properly and the loss of a pet is no different. Take time off whatever you’re doing, make your needs a priority and look after yourself. Nobody will begrudge you for doing that, you will be surprised how understanding other people can be. It doesn’t all have to be black clothing and a funeral atmosphere either – allow yourself the opportunity to commemorate and celebrate your pet. Pull out old photos, reminisce over funny stories or put together a photo album or memory collage. Your pet gave you a lot of joy and you can’t forget that!
Bereavement will be hard for you but it will especially tough on any children in the family. For many children it will be their first experience of loss and it can hit them especially hard. Keep an eye on them. Children react in different ways, depending on their age and what else is happening in their lives. They might seem fine but secretly they could be hurting. Give them space and allow them to talk about their feelings.
Losing your pet is hard but sadly it is a part of life. Doing the right thing by an animal in suffering is the most the important thing. After that, it will be a case of coming to terms with the loss and remembering how much love and colour your pet brought to your family.
* Most insurance policies, including www.pet-insurance.co.uk and E&L policies, exclude costs for euthanasia, cremation and disposal.