Navigating pet death

Losing a pet can feel akin to losing a member of your family. It’s a deeply personal and emotional journey. Whilst grief and loss of any kind deserves empathy and understanding, unfortunately some people may offer unhelpful comments like “just a cat” or “just a dog” etc. Remember, your feelings are valid, and your grief is real. Allow yourself the time and space to heal.

Although we can’t predict when or how a pet’s passing may occur, having a plan in place can provide a roadmap and a sense of comfort during these difficult times.

With pets becoming an integral part of our families, there is now an entire industry dedicated to end-of-life pet options. You may choose to bury or cremate your pet, and when it comes to pet cremation there are choices to consider. There is individual cremation which ensures that your beloved pet’s ashes are returned to you, or community cremation which is usually a more cost-effective option.

You’ll find a variety of urns available, ranging from traditional to contemporary styles. There is also the option of preserving a small portion of your pet’s ashes in jewellery, providing a meaningful keepsake to hold them close to your heart.

Pet memorialisation services offer additional ways to honour your pet’s memory. You might preserve their paw print or a lock of their hair as a cherished memento. Creating a photo book filled with precious moments spent together can be a beautiful tribute. Other options include wind chimes, a personalised sign for your garden, or a teddy bear embroidered with your pet’s name. Lighting a candle with their name can provide a comforting presence in your home.

While a pet funeral may differ from a traditional human funeral, there are ways to create a meaningful farewell. You might consider holding a farewell service at a special location or gather with family and close friends for a toast to celebrate your pet’s life and their meaning to you.

Grief is a natural response to loss, and it’s essential to give yourself permission to grieve. You may need time off from work or seek support from grief services to help process your emotions. Remember, you are not alone. Lean on your support network, reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide comfort and understanding.

Personal note from blog author, Jacqui Thomas [director + lawyer]

Our family has always included a dog. I’m what you might call a “dog person”. In primary school I was beyond excited to get my very own canine sidekick, Gypsie. She was a Beagle x Staffy, and her big smiling face and wagging tail with a white tip brought much joy to my life.

In high school we had to make the difficult decision to euthanize Gypsie due to her declining health. I vividly remember sobbing in the vet room, gently patting her as she passed away. In that moment I desperately wished I could fight reality and bring her back to good health.

If you’re currently going through the loss of a pet, please know that I see you and my heart goes out to you.

A child’s first experience with grief often comes from the death of a pet. Providing guidance and understanding to your child during this time is crucial. In our e-book, “Preparing Children for Death and Funerals,” we also cover pet loss, offering valuable insights and resources to assist children in navigating their emotions during this challenging period.

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