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How to cope with the death of a pet

BY Blue Cross

22nd Nov 2022 Animals & Pets

How to cope with the death of a pet

Pet bereavement is difficult to go through. Diane James, Head of Pet Bereavement Support Service at Blue Cross, shares advice for coping with the death of a pet

Grieving the loss of a pet can be a sad and difficult experience. Many of us see pets as part of the family, for others their pet may have been their only family.    

"Many of us see pets as part of the family"

Many of us share an incredible bond with our pets. They provide companionship, bring happiness and for some even provide a sense of purpose. So, when a pet passes away—or goes missing or is stolen—it can trigger all sorts of painful emotions. Life can suddenly feel very empty. 

A woman sits with her dog

Remember: 

You are normal 

Some may not understand how upsetting the loss of a pet can be and can make you feel you’re overreacting. You should not feel ashamed of your emotions, and the grieving process can’t be forced or sped along. Be patient with yourself. Understand that what and how you are feeling is perfectly normal. 

 Don’t ignore the pain 

Bottling up your feelings will only make matters worse in the long run. To heal, you need to actively face your grief. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. It’s okay to cry or feel angry, after all you have lost someone very special and dear to you. Don’t be hard on yourself if some days are more difficult than others. There will be events that trigger your grief. These can be places you often went to, or the date of your pet’s arrival or their birthday. 

 Open up 

Talking about your feelings and your pet can really help. Don’t be afraid to speak to family and friends, especially if they knew your pet, as they can support you. If a pet is lost or stolen, then there is often no closure, and this can be very difficult. One thing we suggest is writing down how you feel and what you would have said to your pet. This can work for any form of loss. 

A beagle stands in a field

 Seek help 

If you find that your grief is severely impacting your ability to function day to day, seek professional help.  

Practice self-care 

Losing a beloved pet can be very stressful, often throwing your normal routine into havoc. Make sure you continue to care for any other animals in your home and of course, yourself. 

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service is available 365 days a year from 8.30am–8.30pm via a free and confidential helpline on 0800 096 6606 or email pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk 

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