Dealing with the Death of a Pet: Caesar's Story Tuesday 31 May 2016 @ 00:00
This month we received the news that the beautiful Caesar, a cat whose details has been posted on LostPetFinders, sadly passed away. His owner, Isobelle, emailed to tell us:
"Thank you for your email. I'm very sorry and sad to report that dear Caesar was found dead up the street, having been hit by a car. Someone reported his body to the local council and the ranger came around and picked him up."
I only learned all this as a result of someone seeing the post on lostpetfinders, so I'm grateful for your service as it has given me closure. It did take a while for me to track down what had happened to him. The confirmation of his identity (apart from his size and his Manx tail) came through his microchip.
While it’s heartbreaking that this handsome fellow has passed away, it’s good to hear that Isobelle was able to get closure, when many dead pets are not scanned for microchips on discovery.
In light of this sad news, we’ve put together some tips on how to deal with the loss of a beloved animal, because Caesar’s story is a reminder that not all missing pet stories have happy endings.
Tips for coping with the loss of a pet
Everyone reacts to the loss of a pet differently, so how you feel is completely up to you. Allow yourself to react genuinely without feeling embarrassed or forcing yourself to “just get over it”. It’s completely fine to be upset or angry, but it’s also completely fine to feel like it didn’t affect you at all. Remember that your feelings are your own and always completely valid.
It’s alright to look for professional help if you feel that you need it. If your grief interferes with your day-to-day activities and responsibilities, and doesn’t seem to be going away, there might be something more going on. Consider approaching a mental health professional or doctor to assess you for depression.
Don’t try to forget your pet. Plant a tree, create a scrapbook, tell others about your pet or prepare a memorial. It’s alright to celebrate the life of your furry friend, and making a point of remembering all of your happy memories together can help you to move on.
Try to keep your usual routine for the benefit of your other pets. Remember that pets can also suffer from loss when their own furry friends pass away, so it’s important to keep looking after them, or even give them a little extra love, even if you are upset. This will not only decrease the chances of them suffering from distress, but will also strengthen your connection with your other pets, allowing you to move on more easily.
Reach out to friends who have experienced a similar loss. If you don’t know anyone you can talk to who understands what you’re going through, there are some great online message boards, hotlines and support groups which may come in handy. Sometimes the only people who will understand your connection with your pet are other pet owners.
What is a “normal” response to the death of a pet?
There is no “normal” response. Everyone is different, and everyone’s relationship with their pet is different. You may experience a range of any number of different emotional or behavioral responses, and this is fine.
Emotional responses to the death of a pet include an inability to accept the loss, disorientation, disbelief, loss of appetite, guilt, depression, feeling that you will never be the same, feeling that you cannot tolerate the pain, intense tearfulness and denial.
Behavioral responses are cover a vast range, but may include trying to avoid sleeping in the bed you used to share with your pet, following a routine you used to follow with your pet, avoiding people who do not support or understand your grief (and at times even those who do), or feeling the need to sleep with your old pet’s blanket.
Guilt is one of the most common, but most challenging, initial responses to the death of a pet. Rather than remembering fond memories of our companions, we feel inclined to focus on the ways in which we may have let them down - you were too tired to take them on a final walk, you resented them for not understanding certain commands or situations, or maybe you just couldn’t afford a medical procedure they required. What is important to remember is that as a loving pet owner, you gave your furry friend the best life possible, and you should be proud of the fantastic life you gave them.
There is no standard amount of time that it takes to get over a loved one. The amount you mourn will depend on the importance of your relationship to your life, and on how you as an individual respond to these things. If your pet was your primary companion, it would come as no surprise that you are very upset about its death for a long time. There is no one, healthy amount of time that grieving has to take.
It’s not all bad news: Lost Pet Finders has had some success stories this week. If your pet has gone missing, there is always every chance that it will come home to you, as these guys have:
“The lost and found poster is a really good service”
“Thanks for all the support and not letting me lose hope. My Oreo was brought home by a lady who found her after taking her to my vet.”
“I am amazed at the service of LPF. I've come back from a lap of the neighbourhood and my little girl was sitting at the front door.
She has vomited a few times, which is strange. But very glad she came home. I guess i'll always be wondering where she was that couple of hours.”
“A fantastic service that absolutely reached people. I walked around in the community and people had received the alerts I paid for and were aware he was missing. Incredible service. Mclovin returned on his own accord, he had clearly gotten lost, he was skinny and hungry and is so happy to be home. Thank you very much. I highly recommend Lost Pet Finders!”
“Thankyou thankyou so much. She did come home but your support was what pulled me through the nights.”