Preparing for the loss of your pet and bereavement counselling
Our pets offer us companionship, unconditional love, and an ever-listening ear. They often spend many years with the family and they never judge, give advice or tell us what to do. Therefore, when it is time to say goodbye, we understandably often miss them hugely and experience emotional distress, often more than when a person passes away. It is sometimes difficult to express our true emotions to the people around us; we fear we may be misunderstood and might feel embarrassed and hide our true feelings. The bond we have with our pet is individual to each of us and each member of the family might react differently. It’s important to remember that we are all individual and the grieving process is unique to each of us, taking varying amounts of time to reach the final stage of acceptance.
Memories may fade, but they will never leave us completely. Treasure all the memories you shared.
When my last dog Jake died, I was devastated and although I had experienced the loss of numerous pets before, this time I felt excruciating pain and the grieving process was far longer. Jake died very suddenly and being a Registered Veterinary Nurse and (at that time) training to be a Counsellor, it was obvious that once qualified, I felt a passion to offer therapeutic support to pet owners.
Preparing for loss
Traumatic death, road traffic accidents, and any unexpected loss will be exceptionally difficult to cope with. These situations don’t allow us to prepare for the emotional distress we are likely to experience. However, sometimes we are fortunate enough to know that our pet is terminally ill and that we need to prepare ourselves for them no longer being with us. We might be considering euthanasia and struggling with feelings of anxiety and guilt. I can provide a safe, confidential space to discuss your thoughts and feelings and support you through this painful process.
Children react differently to death depending on their age, but it is important to always try and be honest with them. It might be difficult for you but using terms such as ‘put to sleep” or “going away” can be very confusing for a child. It is therefore extremely important to use the correct words for death and dying. I can offer you support in preparing your family for loss and talk through ways to prepare for the final goodbye and the burial or cremation.
Being prepared for the death of your pet will help you cope afterwards. You will have a better idea of the emotions you are likely to experience and be assured that your experiences are completely normal.