Pets come in all different shapes and sizes and include our beautiful dogs, cats, horses, hamsters and rabbits, in fact any living creature to whom we share a special bond with

 

For those who consider their pet to be a beloved family member, friend or companion can however come intense pain with the loss of that beloved friend.

Some people become concerned that their reaction to the loss of their loved one is not normal, however the grief that can follow is natural, for the simple fact that you loved your friend. During the time they were in your life,  whether it was long or short, this pet will have become a significant and important part of your life. They may well have provided a great source of company, enjoyment, fun, acceptance, smiles & laughter and unconditional love so it is no surprise that you may feel devastated by the loss of this significantly important relationship.

​An important fact to realise is that you are not alone with these feelings and that there are thousands and thousands of pet owners who understand how you may be feeling and have gone through similar feelings in the past.

The feelings associated with losing a beloved pet can be similar to other aspects of bereavement yet also may be very different, it depends on the person and the relationship they had. Below are some of the feelings that can emerge during this upsetting time.

 

Guilt

Guilt may be present for a number of different reasons, for example if you feel responsible for your pet dying and this can be a very difficult feeling to process and can become locked into wishing you had been more careful etc. Guilt can also arise if you had to make the most difficult decision with regards to euthanasia, even if you feel this was definitely the correct or only option you can still be left with guilty feelings. Guilt can also appear in relation to the whole of the pet's life and can leave us wishing that we could change the past; for example wishing we spent more time with them, wishing we did not get cross from time to time or wishing we were able to express our love more.

Denial

Denial can make it increasingly difficult to accept that your loved on is really gone. The feelings associated with your pet not greeting you when you come home or that you will not be feeding them at a certain time can become painful and upsetting.

Anger

Losing a loved one can leave us feeling angry. Sometimes we are angry at how unfair death can feel, other times it can be that it feels our pet was taken away too soon or unfairly. In certain circumstances we may be angry at someone who we perceive to be at fault for our pet's death. Anger can be a natural part of the grieving process but for those whom anger is out of character it can be even more difficult to process.

Depression

Some people suffering from a bereavement may experience feelings of extreme low mood and symptoms of depression such as taking little or no enjoyment in aspects of their life that once they did, lack of appetite, irregular sleeping patterns or not sleeping at all and prolonged crying spells. For some people they may report that their life no longer holds any purpose or meaning

The above are only some of the emotions that we can feel when we lose a beloved pet. There is no correct way to be following such an event. If you feel that you are not coping well with the loss please feel free to call me on 01189 680 900 to see how I may be able to help.

   

Pet Loss

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Dr Christian Buckland, Wokingham Psychology, Woosehill Medical Centre, Fernlea Drive, Wokingham, Berks, RG41 3DR