Our pets are our companions. We lavish them with love and attention and they, in turn, provide love and companionship. They become part of the family, have their own personalities, and their death can leave a gaping hole.
If you are faced with the agonising decision of euthanising your pet or are supporting someone going through it, it takes time and love to get through it.
Making the decision
If your pet is unwell or elderly and your vet suggests it is time to put them down, think over carefully. What is best for your pet? Make as much time as possible to say goodbye. Depending on how much time you have, you could take your pet to its favourite place, give them a few last treats and as much love as you can manage to fit in. Take photographs. Cancel any commitments you can and give them all your time and attention.
Grief is real, whether for a person or a pet. Be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to pack away all traces of your pet once they have passed away. If you want to, leave the lead hanging up, leave the basket in the corner, until you are ready to put it away.
Have a ritual
If you would like to do a formal goodbye to your pet or bury their ashes, that may offer you some comfort. Choosing a tree to plant in their honour is a nice way of having something tangible to remember them by.
Often, well meaning friends will ask if you are going to get another pet. Each animal is unique and cannot be replaced. Think of a phrase that you can use in advance, for example, “it is a little early for me to think about that”, or “I am just taking things day by day.”
If you are unprepared for questions, you may find yourself feeling unnecessarily upset. Understand that friends are trying to ease your pain.
Do what you feel is right
If you would like to cry, then cry. If you would like to retrace your pet’s favourite walks, then do. If you want to talk about it, find a friend who knew your pet and ask them to listen.
Each day it will get easier to adjust to your new life without your pet, but expect to have good days and bad days. It sometimes helps to keep a diary. If you are used to talking to your pet, write down what you would like to say.
Grieve, don’t dwell
Try and keep your grief in perspective. Each day, try and do something that feels good or makes you smile, even if it just a quick walk or meeting a friend for a cup of tea. It will ease your sadness and create new memories.