Altho’ it’s a topic non of us really want to think about, it’s an eventuality for those of us that share our lives with our beloved animals – at some time or another, we will have to endure the lose of a family pet.
The sorrow we feel when we loose a pet is very real and it can take a while for the sadness to ease. Don’t be hard on yourself (or others) if this is the case. Often a pet has been a constant companion. The feeds, walks, play time and cuddles are all things experienced on a daily basis. Unconditional love and unreserved loyalty can develop into an incredibly strong bond.
Possibly the kindest way for our pet to depart this world, would be quietly in their sleep, due to old age. Not that it would make it any easier for us to let go – over a decade of loyal companionship brings with it a lot of history. Comfort, friendship, acceptance will all make for a difficult loss.
Having to make the choice that it is time to put a pet to rest can be extremely traumatic. Talk it through with a trusted veterinarian. If a pet has a good appetite, responds to attention and still wants to play, many owners feel that it is not yet time. However, if a pet is in constant pain, unaware of its surroundings and uninterested in life, a compassionate pet owner will almost certainly choose to end their anguish. Try to evaluate the pets health with honesty and unselfishness. The decision will neither be an easy or painless one, but to prolong a pets suffering in order to avoid ones own can not be justified.
A new pet should be a way forward in building another long-lasting relationship, rather than mourning a past loss.
And then there’s loosing a pet suddenly due to an accident. Not only is it an unexpected shock, but can leave one feeling extremely guilty. ‘What if …’ is a heavy burden to endure and will only make it more difficult to resolve the grief. As hard as it is, accepting that accidents do happen and there is no blame, will help ease the pain of lose so the grieving process can be worked through.
It often helps to talk about it. Others who empathise, having been through it themselves, are a great support. Accept the sadness of the situation, but take heart in the wonderful memories a pet has left behind. For some it helps to write about the pet. Maybe make an album, hang a photograph or plant something in their honour.
Surviving pets may also show signs of grief. They may whimper, refuse to eat or go looking for their lost friend. Changing circumstances and other family members grieving can certainly cause distress. Try to maintain a normal daily routine, and of course, lots of TLC.
In general, it is not wise to rush in and get a new pet straight away, or for someone to offer one as a ‘replacement’. Even if they are the same breed, no two pets are the same. It is unfair to compare a new pet with past ones; each will have their unique personalities. Give it time. When one is ready to ‘give’ again, then start looking for that new special friend.