We all experience love, and grief, in different ways, and like love, grief is a very complex emotion, common, but so tough to experience. The most common understanding of grief is that one who is grieving will experience shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Those who see it in this way may place the pressure of expectation of those who are grieving to experience it in a routine, clearly defined, logical progression. However, it is not so simple. These stages can incite varied emotions such as anger, depression, sorrow, numbness, anxiety and guilt, and sometimes they do not follow a set pattern, or stages may repeat. Some people may encourage you to forget your pet, to ‘get over it’, as it’s ‘just a dog’ or ‘just a cat’, but you need to set aside some time, to feel your emotions, rather than fight them. Your grief is your own, and it is not an illness that you can take a pill to cure. Grief is an experience, not an illness.

In this difficult time, it is best to surround yourself with family and loved ones. The passing of a family pet is a collective experience. Even if you are the sole owner of your precious pooch or cherished cat, the company of friends, family, a counsellor, a prayer, or even a new pet can help you in your time of grief. By talking with someone you trust, you can find a place in your emotional life for the one you lost, in order to go on living effectively.

Try not to see this experience in obstacles to overcome; you have enough pressure to face without that expectation. Try to think of it this way – work through these four tasks to adjust to this new period.

  • Accept the reality of your loss.
  • Work through the pain of grief
  • Adjust to the environment where the deceased is missing
  • Emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with your life.

There are some things that you can do to help with your grief, including writing a small passage containing your emotions, writing a short poem, collate pictures, even if you choose not to share them. You can have a family moment to share a story about how you remember your faithful friend, about the time that he went to the groomers, and while in the top cage, decided to wee into the other cages, messing up their perfect haircuts, or the time that when you were sick, she never left your bedside, or how you could always tell when there was unsavory sorts about, as he would always let you know.

If you, or someone that you know is having difficulty following the loss of a loved one, lend them a hand. If you believe that you or they need some extra support, the grief management counsellors at the Pet Cemetery and Crematorium have experienced pet loss personally and professionally. Their counsellors are associated with the APLB (The association of Pet Loss and Bereavement), it helps to speak with someone who knows and understands what is needed.