DEALING WITH THE DEATH OF A PET
In the wise and accurate words of Anatole France “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”. That awakened soul is the reason why dealing with the death of a pet is so incredibly excruciating.
The loss of a pet has a devastating effect on our lives and leaves a void in our hearts and homes. It’s important to remember that pet-parents never suffer the loss of just a pet – but the loss of a family member, friend and confidant.
WHY IS THE DEATH OF A PET SO DIFFICULT?
The loss of a pet, is of course, the loss of unconditional love, comfort and companionship. Our pets always provide us with a safe space like no other; a space without judgment nor rejection – where we can say what we want and express how we feel – on the worst of Mondays and the best of Fridays.
We also say goodbye to our daily routine of walks and talks that disrupt our schedules, leaving unoccupied spaces in our diary where we now find ourselves feeling adrift.
When we lose our pets, we lose an all-accepting bond, precious and unconditional love along with our daily routine. With great change comes great sorrow, and makes the loss of a pet so extremely difficult.
Every loving pet-parent wants to provide their pet with a dignified death. Euthanasia isn’t only one of the most excruciating decisions to make as a pet-parent, but the most important. When dealing with the possible death of a pet – having them suffer is just simply not an option.
Please remember that your vet knows best in regards to your pet’s physical state and will never take your pet away from your family if it’s not the right time – so never be afraid to call and consult your pet’s vet.
WHEN TO EUTHANISE
Again – I strongly recommend checking with your vet on a regular basis towards the end. Even though we know our pets’ characters – our vet might pick up on something we’ve missed. We would never want to prolong our pet’s suffering due to being unaware.
If your pet is weak, but still eating, moving or barking, it might not be time to euthanise. However when they stop eating, become lethargic or lose control over bodily functions; and there are no signs of your pet getting better – it’s time to make that harrowing call.
When your pet’s final hour has arrived, comforting them in their last moments is the ultimate sign of love. Talk to them, brush them, hug them, love them and be there for them one last time. Leaving them alone is not fair – just be there to comfort them.
There is no denying that seeing the life leave your pet’s eyes is probably one of the most heart breaking experiences one can go through. As pet-parents however, we take a silent vow to be selfless and to put our pet’s needs first. It’s important to remember this during their last days.
My mother often told me that we must rejoice in the fact that we’ve given them a great life and lots of love. So my advice to you is take comfort in knowing you were a great pet-parent and that your pet had a great home and time on earth.
WILL MY OTHER PETS MOURN?
Pets will notice a change in the house. Some pets become distressed and refuse to eat or drink. Give your surviving pets loads of extra love and attention. That overflow of adoration is beneficial for you and your pet. It’s a well-known fact that petting animals lowers blood pressure and soothes stress, so overall this is a great way to mourn and heal for the whole family.
COPING WITH THE DEATH OF A PET
Coming home to discover your deceased pet’s food bowls and blankets can be extremely agonising. Pack their possession away systematically, and try to remember a great moment connected to each possession. Another option is to donate your deceased pet’s possessions to animals in need; this way you are doing a good deed in the name of your pet.
Talking to friends or family is a great way to deal with grief. We should never bottle up our feelings and we should never minimize the impact the loss of a pet has in our lives. People who say “it’s just a pet”, aren’t the people you need to confide in. You need to confide in people who love animals and who love YOU and who will understand your pain.
WAYS TO REMEMBER YOUR PET
PHOTOS – A great way to celebrate your pet’s life is through photos. Make an album in honour of your pet, to remember the best of times that you shared together.
MEMORIAL – Many feel they want to pay their respects to their pet, and a small gathering with family/ friends is a great way to do that. Saying a few words about the incredible personality your pet had, and the impact that personality had on your life. Have people share funny stories, of what they remember about your pet and bask in the awesomeness.
PLANT A TREE – Planting a tree or investing in a BIO TREE URN is a magnificent way to keep your pet’s memory alive. It acts as a living tribute to your pet’s life on earth in the form of a flourishing tree – giving life to the habitat around it. A planting project will keep your body occupied and your mind off your pain and suffering.
WHEN TO ADOPT A NEW PET
When you’re emotionally ready – it’s always a good idea to open your heart and home for a new animal in need. Pets seldom outlive their owners, and you’ll find yourselves in a teary state saying another goodbye years down the line, but again, the years of friendship our pets provide us with makes it totally all worthwhile.
I’ll leave you with this quote “pets leave pawprints on our hearts” and we can all agree – for that we’re forever grateful.