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Pet Grief and Loss

How do we ever make sense of saying goodbye to our pet/s at the end of their life? They spend many years as a significant part of our family and unfortunately there are times, that they may only be in our family for a very short period of time. It doesn’t matter how long we have them, saying goodbye is always devastating and for many people, it is life changing.

We build our life around our pets; we base decisions around them; such as weekends away and holidays. When we have a pet that is sick or has a life long illness, they become more significant because their needs must be met, such as having a dog with diabetes or blindness.

There are so many daily routines with our pets, such as feeding them, playing with them, letting them in the house in the morning or taking them out at night. When they sleep with us, we take them outside to toilet them before bed time. We walk with them. They follow us to the toilet. They come outside when we hang the washing. They sit outside with us on a hot summer night. They spend more time in front of the heater than we do in the winter. If we go outside, so do they, if we come inside, they are right behind us. They become our shadow and we grow to love them even more. Then one day, we have to say goodbye.

We love our pet so much. Our heart is full every day because of them. They make us smile. They make us laugh when they do silly things. They make us happy just because they are in our lives. They bring joy to our home and to our heart. They greet everyone that comes to the door and if they’re not very sociable, then they ignore our visitors or bark like crazy at them. Our friends know their name and greet them as if they were our significant family member.  They greet us at the front door or at the side gate or they see us through our front window. They wait patiently everyday for us to come home. They are our companion and for some people they are their best friend.

Losing a pet is heartbreaking and not many people understand our grief. Sometimes pet loss is not taken seriously and people don’t understand when we are not coping.  A lot of people who have lost a pet feel isolated and suffer in silence. Counselling can offer support and provide a safe place for you to talk about your loss and the life you shared with your pet. My promise to you is that I will give the time to cry and express the pain of your broken heart. I will hold the space for your overwhelming emotions and let you feel them on a deep level. I will be there to listen to your stories. I want to hear about the good times and the bad times and especially hear about the day you said goodbye.

I worked part time in an administration position for a 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital. It was here that I witnessed the connection between people and their pets and the deep pain that people experience when saying goodbye to their pet/s. I have seen people hold on to their emotions tightly and avoid expressing their grief and then I have seen people openly express their deepest pain when saying goodbye. I understand that we all express our grief differently.

My own personal loss

I have experienced the pain of losing three of my own dogs. I loved each one of them as if they were my children and saying goodbye left a permanent hole in my heart. It’s hard to put into words the significance of losing a pet.  I miss the routines. I miss their presence.  I missed them in our life for a very long time.

Since then, we have a new addition to our family, a labradoodle called Bodhi. He definitely brings us a lot of joy and keeps us active and on our toes a lot of the time. I call him, my sweet angel.

I will walk with you!

I can’t promise that I can take away your pain, but what I can do, is be there to listen and help make some sense of what happened. I can help you express your anger and your sadness. I will walk right alongside you and hold the space for you to express your grief and loss.

Pet grief and loss is so misunderstood and many people grieve alone, in fear of being judged, because they have heard the words “it’s only a pet, just get another one”.  If only it was that easy! You don’t have to do this alone.

saying goodbye really hurts
It takes a courageous person to heal their pain