Some of the most powerful bonds we form in our lives are with our pets, which makes losing them so difficult.
It’s normal to feel upset or angry after the loss of a pet but there are steps you can take to help yourself feel better.
Give yourself and others time to grieve
The loss of a pet can be devastating so take the time you need to process the grief and sadness you may be feeling. Different people grieve in different ways, and coping with loss can take longer for some people than others. Never be pressured to “move on” – deal with your feelings at your own pace.
Don’t suppress or hide your emotions
Feeling sad, angry, lost or guilty are normal when grieving, so don’t dismiss your emotions. Instead of bottling up your feelings, give yourself a way of expressing them. Try writing about what you’re going through in a diary or talking to someone you trust during this time.
Find a way of honouring your pet
When you’re ready, try to find a way of celebrating your pet’s life and their place in the family. You could organize a ceremony or funeral for them with your family, or create a memory book with photos and stories about the times you had together. Give other members of your family a chance to contribute their memories and ideas as well.
If you have other pets, make sure they’re okay too
Just like humans, other animals in your house might miss your pet too. You might notice that other pets seem more tired or less hungry than usual. Show them some extra attention and keep up their regular feeding or walking routines at this difficult time.
Talk to someone
Talking to a good friend, parent or carer about your loss can significantly help you during the grieving process. Telling someone about the wonderful things you remember about your pet can help you cope with the loss.
You can always call Childline too. Call 1800 66 66 66, send a text to 50101 or chat online at Childline.ie, 24 hours a day, every day.
During the grieving process and afterwards, make sure to practice self-care by eating healthily, getting enough exercise and setting aside quiet time each day.
Consider helping other pets
When you’re ready, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter to honour the memory of your pet. Volunteering or giving back to the community can give you a sense of purpose as you move forward. You can help by taking dogs for walks, looking after cats, cleaning animal crates and helping animal welfare staff in their day-to-day activities.