Pet Bereavement

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Losing a pet

For many, the loss of a pet can mirror the grief experienced when we lose a family member. Where the pet is the source of love, company and connection, the space left by the passing of a pet can leave an owner feeling deep sadness, isolation and loneliness.

The bonds we make with animals can be so important and can provide us with joy, pleasure and companionship. If your pet dies, there may be some people, who may not associate grief and loss with the passing of a pet and assume that you may not be affected by this grief or if you are it will pass very quickly. 

There may be times, when friends or family, who have been supportive in the past, have an expectation over a period of time that you should be over the death of your pet. This can result in feeling hurt, angry, resentful, withdrawn amongst many other feelings and thoughts as everyone’s experience of this is very individual, with no right or wrong response. If you are requiring extra support during this time, ring GriefLine from the contact page on the state hotline number and speak with one of our counsellors. 

Symptoms of grief

As someone who is experiencing this loss, you may experience a range of emotions and you need to give yourself permission to grieve and recognise that everyone grieves differently and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.These intense emotions can be difficult to express as pet bereavement is often a silent emotional sorrow and can often be met with a lack of understanding and sympathy.

At GriefLine we understand the need to talk about the loved one who is no longer with you.

Our trained and professional volunteers can sit with your sorrow and loss and help you find ways to manage and move forward when you are ready. To learn more about the different symptoms of grief click here .

Tips to cope

In the meantime, here are some tips to help you in your time of grief:

  • Remember it is natural to feel the loss of someone, animal or human, that had an important part in your life, so allow yourself to be sad and experience the grief.
  • Find a way to pay homage or honour your pet’s role in your life. This can be by planting a tree, a plaque in a pet cemetery, or a photo or jewellery that holds some significance. Your vet may have other ideas on how to celebrate your loved pet.
  • Stay healthy, exercise, sleep and look after yourself.
  • Connect with those who understand your loss. Some areas have pet bereavement support groups so check with your local council.
  • Understand the symptoms of grief and loss so you can recognise what you are going through and seek support when needed. 
  • Remember grief has its own rhythm and time frame so be prepared for good days and bad days.