How to cope after saying goodbye to your pet

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It is never an easy time when a much loved pet dies, whether it is sudden, due to a long term illness or because of old age.

Losing a pet can often be very upsetting and many owners will go through a process of grieving. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to cope with this process and it can be a lonely, isolating time.

The grieving process may consist of many different stages, including disbelief, pain, anger, guilt and acceptance but there are no hard and fast rules. It’s different for each pet owner.

The first stage is often disbelief and shock. It may be hard to accept that your pet is no longer with you, especially if they have been in your family for many years, and your house may feel very empty and quiet.

The next stage is often pain, anger and depression. You might ask yourself if you have done the right thing or whether there was anything else you could have done. This is quite normal and will subside over time. Things that remind you of your pet, such as their toys and bedding or the sound of a neighbour’s pet’s barking or meowing can be painful to see and hear. Talking to understanding family and friends at this time can be a source of great support.

The last stage of the grieving process is acceptance, when an owner’s thoughts turn to the joy their pet brought them and the companionship they shared. It is often comforting to commemorate the life of a missed pet, so PDSA has set up the National Collection of Pet Memories which allows owners to create a lasting tribute to their pet.

Visiting the National Collection of Pet Memories website (www.pdsa.org.uk) allows owners to read the tributes of others who have been in the same situation, which can be a source of comfort and reassurance.

Other ways to remember pets include framing a picture of them or planting a tree in the garden. For information on pet bereavement visit www.pdsa.org.uk/bereavement