Why are people saying “its only a dog/cat etc”
People who don't understand a pet bond may not understand your pain but don't let others dictate your feelings. You are valid, your feelings are valid. Grief is grief and loss is loss. And remember, you are not alone, there are hundreds of pet owners have gone through similar grieving and mourning.
What do I do now?
The most important step you can take is, to be honest about your feelings. You have a right to feel pain and grief. Someone you loved has died. You have a right to feel anger and guilt too.
Some pet parents find it helpful to express their feelings and memories in stories, or letters to their pet, preparing a memorial such as a photo collage; and talking to other pet lovers about your loss.
Who can I talk to?
Pet lovers! Friends, family, colleagues, anyone who loves their pet just as much as you did. It might be especially helpful to talk to someone who has lost a pet too. They will empathise. Don't hide your feelings in a misguided effort to appear strong or calm. There are also pet loss counsellors and support groups.
When is the right time to euthanize a pet?
This is one of the worst decisions you will hopefully never have to make in life but if it sadly comes your way then your vet is the best judge of your pet's physical condition. You are the best judge of the quality of your pet's daily life. If a pet has a good appetite, still responds to attention, still wants cuddles and/or walks you may feel that this is not the right time. However, if a pet is in constant pain, unresponsive to affection, unaware of its surroundings, and/or uninterested in life, then you may choose to end the beloved companion's suffering as much as it will hurt you deeply.
How should I tell my kids?
Honesty is important. Especially these days, children know a lot more than we do! If you say the pet was "put to sleep," make sure your children understand the difference between death and ordinary sleep or they may never sleep for you again! Try not to say the pet "went away," as your child may wonder what he or she did to make it leave, and wait, tormented, for its return. Don't assume a child is too young or too old to grieve. I find the Rainbow Bridge story is great for children and adults alike. It explains death but allows us to feel at peace, knowing our furbabies are happy and free.
Do other pets grieve too?
Pets often form strong attachments to one another while living in the same house/venue. The survivor of such a pair may grieve for its companion. You will notice small things and you may need to give your surviving pets a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this time.
How soon should I get a new pet?
This is an almost impossible question to answer as every family and person is different in their moments of grief. You need to take the time to fully grieve and evaluate your circumstances. If you do decide to get a new pet, some will advise you to avoid getting a "lookalike" pet, which makes comparisons all the more likely. Or that getting a totally different looking pet will also draw comparisons. But then we got a new pet in the form of our late dogs' granddaughter and we love that fact. It is entirely personal and a difficult question to advise.
Hails from Dublin, Ireland. Pet Parent to Poppy and also Roxy who is currently hanging out at Rainbow Bridge <3 Innovative thinker, writer, talker. #Author 'Say Farewell, Your way'