This is a subject very close to my heart. From my earliest memories, I can always remember having a pet in my family home.
I have the most wonderful memories of my pets, I loved all of them.
That is why losing a pet is so traumatic. They give us wonderful memories, love, fun times, companionship and so much more. While some people may not understand the depth of feeling you had for your pet, you should never feel guilty about grieving for your animal friend.
For many people, a pet is not just ‘a cat’ or ‘a dog’, it is a beloved member of your family. For some, especially those who live alone, they provide so much comfort and companionship. Your circumstances can play a significant part in the role your pet played in your life, such as an assistance dog which can lead to a loss in your independence.
The reason I felt the need to write this article today was because I recently lost my dog, that I had from a rescue centre 10 years ago. Her illness and death were extremely sudden, within 24 hours. She died on my birthday. I loved my little dog. She was such a lovely pet to take out for walks. She was wonderful with children and with people in general; she was fussy with everyone. So the grief I experienced when she died was perfectly normal. Grief affects all of us in different ways, depending on our age, circumstances and how much we relied on our pet as a companion.
The first part of my grief was shock at the suddenness of my loss. The next few weeks were incredibly difficult. I cried every day. I missed her running up to me when I came home. I missed taking her out for a walk in the morning, playing with her ball in the garden, lying on the sofa with me when I watched the TV. Things you can take for granted, you suddenly realise, are gone.
I understand the death of a loved one. My dad passed when he was very young, so I know that the process of grieving can last a long time.
Eventually, after 3 to 4 months, I started to get used to the idea of my pet no longer being around. That is how it can feel when you have experienced grief for a while, then your life slowly begins to adapt differently to your new situation.
Many people have different viewpoints on the next step they can take after losing a pet. Do you choose another dog, as in my case, or do you decide to leave it for a while? Both decisions, either way, are perfectly normal. Well, I came to the realisation a few months back that I missed having a dog in my home so much, and I was fortunate enough to be given the chance to take care of a beautiful Labrador, who is now part of our family. It is the best decision I made. They all have their own personalities and can never replace the dog you had, as those memories are special and precious, but your new pet will provide you with a new personality, fun, companionship and lots of love.