Losing your companion animal can be distressing and heartbreaking. How you deal with that grief can be difficult when the thought of losing your best friend plays constantly on your mind and it can be hard to know how to cope with the loss of a pet.
Whilst nothing can take away the pain and loneliness, the Sweet Goodbye Kits were made to help improve the farewell healing process by helping you care for your pet with dignity when they pass away.
To also help you cope with the grieving process if you have recently lost a pet, or are sadly facing it soon, here are some tips from Sweet Goodbye to help guide you through your grief and what to expect when you do lose your best friend.
- Am I crazy to hurt so much?
Intense grief over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s silly, crazy, or overly sentimental to grieve! People who don’t understand the pet/owner bond may not understand your pain; all that matters is how you feel. Don’t let others dictate your feelings: they are valid, and may be extremely painful. Remember, you are not alone: thousands of pet owners have gone through the same feelings.
- What can I expect to feel?
Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides your sorrow and loss, you may also experience the following emotions:
Guilt • Denial • Anger • Depression
Whether you choose burial or cremation for your beloved pet, the Sweet Goodbye kits create a more comforting environment and provide protective, fit for purpose resting encasements that are highly appealing and can be safely lifted, carried, stored and transported.
- What can I do about my feelings?
The most important step you can take is to be honest about your feelings. Don’t deny your pain, or your feelings of anger and guilt. Only by examining and coming to terms with your feelings can you begin to work through them. Express it. Cry, scream, pound the floor, talk it out and reminisce about the good times. Do what helps you the most.
- Who can I talk to?
If your family or friends love pets, they’ll understand what you’re going through. Don’t hide your feelings in a misguided effort to appear strong and calm! Find someone you can talk to about how much your pet meant to you and how much you miss them – someone you feel comfortable crying and grieving with. If you don’t have family or friends who understand, or if you need more help, look into support groups or ask your GP about grief counseling.
- When is the right time to euthanise a pet?
Your Veterinarian is the best judge of your pet’s physical condition and you are the best judge of the quality of your pet’s daily life. If a pet is in constant pain, undergoing difficult ineffective treatments, is unresponsive to affection, unaware of its surroundings, and uninterested in life, a caring pet owner will probably choose to end their beloved companion’s suffering. Evaluate your pet’s health honestly and unselfishly with your veterinarian.
- Should I stay during euthanasia?
Many feel this is the ultimate gesture of love and comfort you can offer your pet. Some feel relief and comfort themselves by staying: they were able to see that their pet passed peacefully and without pain, and that they were truly gone. For many, not witnessing the death makes it more difficult to accept that their pet is really gone. However, this can be traumatic, and you must ask yourself honestly whether you will be able to handle it. Uncontrolled emotions and tears—though natural—are likely to upset your pet.
- What do I do next?
When a pet dies, you must choose how to handle its remains. Sometimes, in the midst of grief, it may seem easiest to leave the pet at the clinic for disposal. To many, a pet cemetery provides a sense of dignity, security, and permanence. Cremation can be an affordable option that allows you to handle your pet’s remains in a variety of ways: bury them, scatter them in a favourite location, or keep them with you in a decorative urn. Consider your living situation, personal values, finances, and future plans when making your decision. It’s wise to make plans in advance, rather than hurriedly in the midst of grief.
- What should I tell my children?
You are the best judge of how much information your children can handle about death and the loss of their pet. Don’t underestimate them. You may find that, by being honest with them about your pet’s loss, you may be able to address some fears and misperceptions they have about death. Make it clear that the pet will not come back, but that it is happy and free of pain. Never assume a child is too young or too old to grieve. Discuss the issue with the entire family, and give everyone a chance to work through their grief at their own pace.
- Will my other pets grieve?
Pets observe every change in a household, and are bound to notice the absence of a companion. Pets often form strong attachments to one another, and the survivor of such a pair may seem to grieve for its companion. Cats grieve for dogs, and dogs for cats. You may need to give your surviving pets a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this period. The love of your surviving pets can be wonderfully healing for your own grief.
- Should I get a new pet right away?
Generally, the answer is no. One needs time to work through grief and loss before attempting to build a relationship with a new pet. If your emotions are still in turmoil, you may resent a new pet for trying to “take the place” of the old—for what you really want is your old pet back. Children in particular may feel that loving a new pet is “disloyal” to the previous pet. A new pet should be acquired because you are ready to move forward and build a new relationship—rather than looking backward and mourning your loss. When you are ready, select an animal with whom you can build another long, loving relationship because this is what having a pet is all about!
To help prepare you and your pet for their passing, the Sweet Goodbye Kits can also help, by providing a comfortable and beautiful final resting place. You can find out more about their kits that are beautifully handmade from natural and biodegradable materials specifically designed for cremation and pet burial here.
You can also download a more comprehensive flyer with their Top Ten Tips here.
To find out more or to purchase a Sweet Goodbye Kit visit www.sweetgoodbye.com.au
About the Author: Jaime Levy has completed a Certificate II in Equine Studies, Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services with the Elective in Dog Training and Behaviour, Diploma of Equine Business Management and now completing a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. She has also been working as a dog groomer for the past 3 years.