Today is the first day of National Grief Awareness Week so we’re going to talk about the grief you may feel when losing a pet. Your pet was likely a big part of your life and family and how you feel about losing them is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
National Grief Awareness Week is an “annual national event driven by The Good Grief Trust, the UK’s leading umbrella charity, bringing all UK bereavement services, support organisations and helplines together under one central database. Offering early signposting to a choice of support for both the bereaved and those working with them.”
Take time to grieve
Grief of any kind is a deeply personal experience and won’t be the same for any two people. When you lose a pet you lose their company, but also the routine of looking after them. It may take time to come to terms with the loss so it’s important you take this time for yourself. Taking a walk or doing some exercise is often a good way to keep your mind occupied and look after your body.
Talk to people who understand
At first talking about your pet might be really hard, but this is an important step in the grieving process. Make sure you find someone to talk to who can understand what you are going through and won’t trivialise your feelings. If you don’t have anyone close to talk to consider contacting a pet bereavement counsellor or charity like the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service.
Find a way to pay tribute to your pet
There are so many ways to pay tribute to your pet. When you are ready, think about what will be helpful to you. Some things you could do are:
- Create a memorial area in your home or garden
- Frame a favourite photo of your pet
- Donate to a charity in their memory
- Plant a memorial tree or flowers in your garden
- Scatter or bury their ashes in a special spot
- Hold a funeral, memorial or celebration of their life
Don’t be afraid if your feelings change
Although people often talk about ‘getting over’ a loss or finding closure, more commonly your grief will change rather than go away altogether. Don’t feel guilty if you feel less upset or think about your pet less often. You loved and cared for them and no matter how you feel you will always remember the connection you shared.
You can find more information about pet bereavement counsellors, support services, books and poems on our website here.