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Animal Bereavement

The death of a much loved pet can be a truly devastating time. The demise of a companion animal means the end of a period in our lives and can leave us with feelings of grief, panic and fear as we face the world an emptier place.

If the pet was elderly, then the death is something that we can usually accept as part of the ageing process.However, when a young animal is taken suddenly from us, the shock can be very difficult to come to terms with and we agonise over the years that we planned to share but are now lost forever.

Accidents, disease or injury can all take their toll. Dealing with the demise of a pet meeting a sudden and violent end is traumatising and debilitating for us. At these times I advise that people have some healing for themselves to help find some sense of peace.

The pet may be stolen or disappear, and then the grief cannot be resolved and is made worse by endless worry and hoping against hope that the animal will return to our lives. If still alive, the pet will also be missing us, knowing that makes it so very hard to cope with.

People expect humans to feel distraught when a close friend or relative dies and so to give them sympathy and make allowances.

However, when it comes to the death of a pet many people are quite insensitive and intolerant, so we often hide our grief and sense of loss from the world around us.

When we experience grieving for a pet we often feel guilty because it was 'just an animal'. However, the pet we have lost was not just an animal-it was part of our soul energy, a reflection of of our love and an extension of all that we are and have experienced while they were in our care. 

We feel that everything has been taken away when they left.

That is why the hole in our hearts feels so huge, why the pain hurts so much, why we feel so empty.

But in reality nothing has been taken away by the process we call death, other than the physical body of the animal. We have reflected our love onto them, and they reflected their love to us. We still have that within us, it is permanently added to our life force, and the memories we have are what helped make us the person we are today.



*Talk to a counsellor-someone trained and experienced in this kind of loss can help you work through the pain.

*Try to avoid people who are unkind, or critical of your grief.

*If you had lost a child, or another human relative, or friend-you would receive all the support that you need.

*This loss is no different except that perhaps it may feel worse.

*The reason that an animal loss may feel worse is that the bonding is usually much stronger, and deeper, than with most humans.

*We also spend more time with the animals than with most humans.

*If you can find at least one person to support you, allow that person to help in practical as well as emotional ways.

*If possible,take time off work-make time, and space for your grief-tears and other expressions of your feelings.

*Whatever feels right for you to do, think, say-that is right. No-one has the right to tell you what you should, 

or should not feel.

*It's alright for you to cry, to be sad, to scream-you own your own feelings.

*This is an extremely vulnerable time in your life-so others may try to take control, and bully you. Do not be pressurised by others.

*Remember that the love you shared with your companion has not died


*The communication has not died.

Continue to talk to the lost friend-write letters or poems, read poetry-anything that is helpful to you and brings comfort.

*Think about a memorial-rose bush or other plant; a donation in his / her name for charity; a plaque; a headstone.

It may also be possible to have a star named after the animal.


*Be aware that you may be more prone to accidents or illness.

*Self-help, self-care will prevent, or greatly diminish the possibility of illness later on.

*Self-nurture is very important-Reiki, massage, favourite foods, reflexology, long walks, favorite music, favorite books or films could all help.

*Take vitamins C,E,and B for stress, and to boost the system.

*Bach flower rescue remedy, Evening primrose oil and echinacea will also aid in this, and are invaluable.

*Use herbal, plant, homeopathic calmatives and sleeping pills rather than harmful, toxic drugs.

*Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables;stay off strong stimulants-coffee, tea, alcohol-use spring water, herbal teas, fruit juices instead.

*Exercise-wherever possible-will lift the spirits-walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga, stretching.

*Always remember that you are the most important person at this time.

*If you are caring for someone else who is grieving, please remember all of the above.

Be supportive, be kind, be compassionate.



Mind to Mind - Betty Shine

When your animal dies - Sylvia Barbanell

Pets have souls too - Jenny Smedley

Goodbye friend - Gary Kowalski

Blessing the bridge - Rita Reynolds

The healing paw-not all angels have wings - Billy Roberts.