Help With Losing Your Dog
Saying goodbye to a cherished pet can be incredibly emotional. If a bond has been formed between pet and owner that is as strong as that of a family member then the level of grief will match it. It is important to remember that grief is a unique and individual experience, and there is no ‘normal’ way to grieve. Non-pet owners may not understand that losing a pet can be traumatic – but there are people who know what you are experiencing and there is help available.
When we experience the loss of a loved one it is very common to feel that things are out of our control. When your heart is breaking it is easy to be swept along with the tide but you need to make sure that you don’t make any decisions that you might regret later on.
It’s not a subject that we like to dwell on but it really does help to spend some time when your pet is young and fit to consider what your wishes would be for them when they pass away. Focus on the parts of the process you can control – whether you would prefer your vet to come to your home if euthanasia is necessary, and whether you would like to bury your pet or have them cremated. If cremated, would you want an individual cremation so that you would get the ashes back? This does not happen automatically. Veterinary practices will differ in the services they offer so check with your particular vet.
By taking a few moments to consider your wishes ahead of time it really will help the process when the sad day comes.
Animal welfare charity Blue Cross runs the free and confidential Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS) which you can access by phone, email or webchat. The service is manned by a team that is fully-trained to support owners experiencing pet loss and is available from 8.30am to 8.30pm every day.
Since the service was set up in 1994, the PBSS has helped thousands of pet owners of all ages and from all walks of life to navigate their way through pet loss. In 2020 alone the service was contacted by more than 14,200 people. Pet owners have felt less alone during the grieving process after being listened to with compassion and understanding.
Ways to remember
There are lots of ways that you can help keep your beloved pet’s memory alive and you may choose to do something to help you during the grieving process. Here are some ideas that have helped other pet owners:
- Hold a memorial service and invite friends and family. You could read a special poem, play music or simply share memories with each other.
- Plant a tree or shrub in your garden, perhaps in your pet’s favourite spot, or find a garden ornament that reminds you of your pet.
- Make a memory box. You could include your pet’s collar, favourite blanket and toy.
- Have a portrait painted by a pet artist from your favourite photo.
- Create a photo montage or album of all your favourite memories.
- Have a piece of jewellery made that includes some of your pet’s ashes or hair. There are companies that can take pet ashes and turn them into diamonds!
- If tattoos are your thing, you could have your pet’s name, face or something associated with them inked on to your body as a lasting reminder of the bond you shared.