Pets are our best friends. Pets are our family. Pets are a source of unconditional love. Pets help us when we’re in need. They have fun with us, and they’re there for us when we’re down. Pets change our lives, they provide therapy for us, they work with us, they adore us.
Sadly, someday, the day comes when our pet is no longer with us. Our pets pass away. They’re gone.
Losing a Pet
The loss of a pet can cause immense sadness. This sadness can sometimes be equal to the sadness you feel when you lose a family member, or a dear friend. Your pet is your companion, and when they’re gone it’s easy to feel like there’s a hole in your life that will never be filled again.
Your beloved pet’s death may come suddenly, or there may be a slow and heart-wrenching process before they pass away. When the day comes for your pet to pass away, the death of your pet will naturally have a huge emotional effect on everyone who ever knew and loved them.
Social Life with Pets
Having a pet changes your social life, you’re more proactive, you do more activities and meet more people. So, after the loss of a pet it’s understandable that you feel purposeless. It’s understandable that you feel isolated. It’s understandable that you feel sadness.
It’s likely that those who don’t understand the bond between a pet and its owner think you’re being overdramatic about how this terrible loss is affecting you. Whatever others may tell you, grieving the loss of a pet is not overdramatic or over-sentimental. In fact, anything that you feel after the loss of a pet is valid.
You’re Not Alone
You are not alone in your feelings either. Every year millions of pet owners in the UK experience the loss of a pet. Some feel heartbroken, others despondent, and some even blame themselves for their loss.
Grieving is a very individual process, and there’s no one way to deal with your loss. Grieving is usually a gradual process, and no one should expect you to get over your loss quickly. It’s okay to feel shock, sadness and loneliness for as long as you need to.
The process of grieving usually lasts for one or two months, but there is no timeline on feeling happiness again. In your process of grieving you may experience both psychological and physical effects.
Broken Heart Syndrome
In 2017, it was reported that a pet owner experienced ‘broken heart syndrome’ (New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 2017) after her dog passed away. In this case, the grief felt by the dog’s owner was so severe that she experienced physical symptoms similar to a heart attack. It’s also reported that pet owners who lose their beloved companions can suffer panic attacks, feel extreme anxiety, and even induce hormone imbalances in themselves.
To avoid these kinds of physical symptoms, self-care is a must in these troubling times. There are a few simple things you can do to help get over the immediate shock of losing a pet. One way of easing the pain of your loss is by making a simple plan of your next steps in life and trying to keep busy. Another is to practise breathing exercises to stem any anxieties you may feel. It’s also important to try and maintain your social life and live your daily life as normally as you can.
But more importantly, you must allow yourself to feel the heartache that your body is telling you to feel. If you try to ignore or bury these feelings, they will only resurface later.
Sharing these feelings with a friend is a great way to work through your grief. However, sometimes even friends may not be there, or may misunderstand and judge you. If these support networks fail you, it’s easy to become despondent. Even if you feel that you can’t express the sadness you’re feeling, it’s important to accept that talking to someone new about your feelings can be a great help. Studies have shown that social interactions can massively help those experiencing grief of any kind.
That’s why seeking professional and impartial support will help you in your time of need. No one should grieve alone. With the help of a qualified counsellor you will be able to work through your feelings of grief.
If your pet has passed away and you are experiencing emotional difficulties, or if you’re anxious about losing your pet, please get in touch with me. I can offer the professional and impartial support and guidance you need in these difficult times.
Eventually the darkness will pass, and you’ll step out into the light. You’ll begin to feel joy as your grief releases you, and you’ll become free to savour the memories of the pet you nurtured and loved. You’ll delight in the memories of a pet who loved you just as much as you’ll always love them.
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