Our fur babies are part of the family, so it’s never easy saying goodbye to them. When a pet dies it can cause overwhelming sadness for the whole family. Pet advocate and Rufus & Coco CEO, Anneke van den Broek, tells New Idea her tips for coping with the loss.
What to expect when you lose a pet
Losing a pet is akin to losing anyone we love. Suddenly our days look different and our companion is gone. Our routines have suddenly changed and the best friend we might otherwise turn to for comfort is not there.
Grieving is a natural process we all have to go through when we lose a loved one, and our pets are no different. Talking about it can help you to process how you are feeling, but ultimately time is the only thing that heals.
If you have other pets, they will be feeling the loss, too. Keep to their routine and give them plenty of love and attention.
Dealing with the loss
Talk to people about how you are coping. Your own routine will be out of whack. Keep up regular exercise and walking even if you no longer have your pet with you – exercise is good for mental health and will help you set a new routine.
Don’t rush to throw away your pet’s belongings. Store them out of sight if it helps – you may want to look at them again down the track. You can hold a ceremony to farewell them properly and use the opportunity to reflect on the impact they had on your life.
Helping children deal with the loss
If you need to tell your children about a pet’s death, explain the difference in life expectancies, explain why the pet passed away and listen, as children will often have lots of questions and their own interpretations. Talk about all the good memories they had with their pet.
The best way to help children cope is to be available to comfort them and respond to their questions.
Memorialising your pet
There are many ways you can honour the memory of your pet. Some ways include: cremation and spreading their ashes at their favourite park; having a picture of them sketched or painted; having their ashes turned into memorial glass ornaments or even jewellery.
Buying a new pet
If you’ve always had pets and want a pet in your life – absolutely get another one! Just make sure you have grieved properly for the loss of your other pet first