For many, the loss of a pet can mirror the grief experienced when we lose a family member.

Losing a companion animal

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 their passing can leave the owner feeling deep sadness, isolation and loneliness.

The bonds we make with animals can be very important and provide us with joy, pleasure and companionship. If your pet dies, you may find some people don’t associate grief and loss with the passing of a pet.  They assume you will not be affected by this grief or, if you are, it will pass very quickly.   There may also be times, when friends or family, who have been supportive in the past, have an expectation after a period of time that you should be over the death of your pet.

This can result in you feeling hurt, angry, resentful and withdrawn amongst many other feelings and thoughts.   Everyone’s experience of grief for a pet is very individual, with no right or wrong response. If you are requiring extra support during this time, you can join our Pet Bereavement Online Forum or call our helpline to speak with one of our Helpline volunteers.

You are not alone in your loss

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

At Griefline we understand your need to talk about the beloved pet that 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 a loved one, animal or human, that played 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 piece of 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 communities 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.