Our pet’s are our family….
A couple of years ago I was walking my dogs with my friend and her dogs and we came across a family with an old Labrador. The old dog was really struggling and as we approached I realised that every member of that family was crying quietly. As they got back to their car we realised that this was their last walk, that this family had brought their beloved old dog for her last family outing. We stepped out of their way, and without us having to speak, all 5 of our dogs sat quietly and we all stood to one side to let them have this moment.
This brief but incredibly moving event on one grey Sunday afternoon has stuck with me so vividly that it still has the power to reduce me to tears. The strength of the love that we have for our pets is something we simply cannot dismiss, and their deaths have the same deep, painful impact as the death of a family member or friend. Just ask any pet owner, our pets are our family.
Over the years I have experienced the loss of multiple pets, cats, dogs and rabbits, and every time one of them dies I think ‘that’s it, no more pets, I can’t handle this again’ – and yet I’ve still not lived in a house with no animals. With two dogs in my house, I’ve come to the conclusion that my reality is that the joy I get from my pets by far outweighs the grief I experience when they die.
I also know people who have never owned a pet and who don’t really understand the relationship that pet owners have with their animals, they can’t quite get their heads around the anxiety of having a sick pet at home and, unfortunately, they find it difficult to comprehend the depth of the grief that pet owners experience after a pet dies.
Unfortunately, I know from the clients who I’ve worked with at the Dove Service, this can cause a lot of conflict for the bereaved. We need time to grieve after a bereavement, but when this grief is connected to a pet, it is often the case that some employers, colleagues and friends just don’t get it. So you need to remember to give yourself time to grieve, to talk to people who do understand your grief and who don’t need you to justify why you are grieving.
Talking to an independent Counsellor could help if you feel like you are struggling with the death of a pet. At the Dove Service we work with people all the time who are experiencing grief associated with a whole range of bereavements.
(by Charlie O’Dell – CEO, the Dove Service)
The Dove Service works with anyone who has been impacted by grief in any form, and that includes grieving for a pet. If you’re struggling with the death of a pet we may be able to offer you some support
If you would like more information on our services, call us on 01782 683155.