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Coping with the loss of a pet

  • 10, Sep 2020
  • Read time: 5 mins

Losing a beloved pet is difficult for the whole family. It’s natural to grieve and go through all kinds of emotions when you lose a pet. We’ve shared some advice on how to cope with the passing of your companion that we hope will help during this time.

Older dog playing in the grass.

Losing a pet is like losing a member of the family

We understand that your pet is more than a pet; they are a member of your family that you love and cherish. They bring joy and companionship to our lives that when they pass, it’s natural for you to feel grief and sadness.

Putting your pet to sleep

It’s not a decision that pet owners ever want to face. In some cases, putting your pet to sleep and letting them slip away peacefully is the best choice for your pet. If your pet has a terminal illness or an injury affecting their wellbeing, your vet may talk to you about putting your pet to sleep.

It can be a difficult conversation, but a chat with your vet and your family will help your family understand the decision at hand.

The different stages of grief

Everyone will deal with the loss of a pet in their own way. You may find that you and your family experience feelings of grief at different times.

While you may not experience all stages or in a particular order, understanding the feelings of grief can help you cope. The different stages of grief can include:

  • Denial – not being able to accept that your pet is no longer with you.
  • Anger – you may experience pain and outbursts while trying to accept the loss of your beloved pet.
  • Guilt – rethinking decisions and if there was anything else you could have done can be a painful stage of grief, but know that it will pass with time.
  • Depression – feeling down and intense sadness is common when a pet passes away. It can cause disrupted sleep and loss of energy for activities you once enjoyed. Talking to family, friends or speaking to a professional can help you with these feelings.
  • Acceptance – while you may still feel sadness, it will feel easier to look back at the good memories made with your pet once you are able to accept your loss.

Helping children cope with grief

Sometimes, the loss of a pet can be the first time children experience losing a loved one. It can be difficult to explain what has happened and it can be hard for them to understand why their furry friend is no longer at home. If your children are grieving the loss of their pet, here are some ways you can help them cope:

  • Reassure them that how they are feeling is natural and that with time, they will feel better
  • Share your own feelings with them to help them see that their grief is normal when experiencing loss
  • Try to be honest where you feel comfortable and steer away from telling them that your pet has gone to a new home or somewhere else
  • Get creative with them and help them to create a memento of their furry companion to remember them by
  • Take time to grieve with them by having a memorial service

How to honour your pet’s memory

To help you and your family celebrate your pet’s life, why not gather together and have a funeral or memorial. You can spend time together to scatter their ashes in their favourite place or burying their favourite toy. 

When you feel ready, making mementoes of your pet can be a great way to celebrate their life and share memories.

Knowing when to get another pet

The loss of a pet can leave an empty space in our homes and hearts. You may want to go out and get another pet to fill that space, but often you need time to grieve before getting another pet.

There’s no right or wrong time to get another pet, you will know when you’re ready to welcome another furry companion into the family.

What to do about vet bills

Not only is it an emotional time for you, but it can also be an expensive time too. The last thing you want to be worrying about is vet bills when you’re coming to terms with losing your pet.

Farewell cover can help with vet bills if your pet is put to sleep by a vet and will cover the cost of a cremation or burial. MORE THAN pet insurance customers can choose to add Farewell cover to their pet insurance or it's included with our Premier policies.

By covering your dog or cat with pet insurance, you can have added peace of mind knowing you’ll have help with the vet costs involved.

Find out more about our pet insurance.

Getting support

The pain of grief can become overwhelming at times. If you don’t feel that you can share feelings and emotions, there are support networks out there that can help.

If you would like to speak to a support network, chatting to Blue Cross or Paws to Listen can offer you comfort during this tough time.

Make a pet insurance claim

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