How to cope with the loss of a pet

21 April 2021

Losing a pet is painful and difficult, but there are things that can help, and you don't have to go through it alone.

Our companion animals aren't just 'pets', they're family members, best friends, and sometimes can feel like the most reliable and consistent presences in our lives. Research shows that losing an animal can be just as painful, if not more, than losing a human family member or friend. 

If you're grieving the loss of a pet, first recognise that however you feel, or however you react is 'normal'. Everyone grieves in different ways and in different stages.

People also utilise different coping mechanisms. Jon recently contacted Greyhound Trust via our social media pages to share how he had made a memorial video on YouTube to both to mark the life of his beloved greyhound Manny and to help him grieve - a process he was still going through a year after Manny passed. Memorial for Manny

Our grief is a reflection of the love we felt for them when they were still with us (even if at times that grief feels like a sense of numbness, or lack of feeling). It's also a period of adjustment to a life that we once built and bent around our dogs. So, if you're struggling, what can you do to help you move through the grieving process at your own pace?

1. Make time to allow yourself to grieve.

2. Allow yourself to reflect on your shared experiences with your pet.

3. Take care of yourself - and importantly, be kind to yourself.

4. Develop methods of calming yourself, such as meditative breathing or physical exercise.

5. If you have other animals, try to maintain consistent routines with them as much as possible. This will help them with their grief too.

6. Take steps to mark the life of your pet. As with Jon and his YouTube video, sharing positive memories of your animals can help you to say 'goodbye', or 'see you later'.

7. Seek support. As well as leaning on family and friends, you can also ring one of a number of pet grief support lines. Blue Cross volunteers run a free and confidential Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS) that you can call between 8.30am and 8.30pm every day on 0800 096 6606.

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