Loss of a pet – when my best friend passes.
My brain did nothing but remind me of that time. I could picture myself arriving home from work, opening the door and finding that little friend who for so many years, every day of his life, had waited patiently to greet me and rub against my legs, pleading to be stroked.
But now he was gone. All that was left was the emptiness that filled the house with silence. A silence that tore me apart inside leaving me unable to breathe properly. I was short of breath, and I just couldn’t take it in.
I would never see him again.
There we were, the two of us. Him, lying on the cold steel table and me, by his side stroking him gently. Standing there, a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes.
The vet had given his verdict: “Your cat is suffering. It’s time for you to decide whether you want to prolong his torment…” He had caught me off guard, I was blind-sided and had to hold onto the table to steady myself.
The decision is yours alone – perhaps one of the worst dilemmas that life holds for you. To decide whether to keep him with you, in his suffering, or let him go forever.
Part of you screams that you must end his pain, while another can’t stand the awful idea of never seeing him again. This is when you look into his eyes and see it. See the suffering in those eyes. He looks at you, and you can feel it. Feel every part of your body shudder as though your life depended on this. Feel his pain as though it were yours.
And suddenly you understand.
The time has come. You curse everything under the sun for leading you down this path. Approaching him softly, mustering all your composure, you tell him.
Tell him he’ll always be there with you in your memories and your heart, and that you’ll meet again, somewhere, somehow, because he means as much to you as you do to him. That amazing unconditional love that only your pet, your dearest friend, was able to give.
You say farewell with a ”goodbye my love”, knowing that life will never be the same again.
The aim of this post is to help everyone who has experienced the loss of their pet or is soon to go through such a difficult time. People who are alone, who believe that no one will understand the suffering caused by the loss of an animal, or who simply don’t know how to express the pain inflicted by said loss.
We want to show you that it doesn’t have to be this way, you’re not alone. There are plenty of us out there who feel the same way, and we know that our pets are more important to us than many of our friends realize. They form part of our family, and it’s perfectly normal to feel that way.
For all of these reasons, we’ve written our little nugget about the death of a pet. We sincerely hope it helps.
Preparing for farewell
Although it’s true to say we don’t always know exactly when our little friend is nearing the end, in certain cases it becomes apparent because they may be suffering an illness, or because they’ve already reached a ripe old age.
In the event of disease, where the pet is suffering, our veterinarian has the duty to explain the procedure and give us options.
We should bear in mind that opting for euthanasia, while not an easy decision to take, is still the best option considering we can prevent further suffering and our little friend can finally rest. The procedure also allows us to be present, accompanying our pet in its last moments, by its side – if we wish – until its light goes out.
If your pet isn’t suffering from disease and has simply already reached an advanced age, then we recommend you simply make the most of the time you have. Every day is a gift. Your pet has probably already lost its former vitality and only seeks to enjoy your calm, quiet company. Make its final days special. Make your pet feel your devotion and gratitude for giving you all that unconditional love over so many years.
You know you’ll never live with another pet like this one; after all this time, it ‘s come to be as much a part of you as you are of it. Prepare yourself for your inevitable farewell and remember, this is not goodbye but “see you later.”
When the time comes…
It is inevitable that, when the time finally arrives, we are overcome with pain and anguish. After all, we’re talking about a dear friend who, in the best of cases, has stuck out almost two decades by our side, through thick and thin. We will come across few people in our lifetimes with whom we form such a close bond.
And because of all this, it should be perfectly reasonable to let our feelings flow. Whether you externalize these emotions or not depends on each person and how helpful it proves to them.
It is even possible to perform some farewell ceremony if this feels correct for the person involved and, in this way, pay tribute to our little companion. This also helps to establish a before and after, thus facilitating our acceptance of the future change.
If the kitty has been living with children, it would be advisable to explain the situation to them, helping them cope with the loss. Luckily children have the advantage of possessing vivid imaginations. Thanks to this, we can create a version of reality – in story mode for example – which is less traumatic for children.
And if they’re slightly older, almost in their teens, then now would be the time to clarify any doubts they have about life and death. If on the other hand, the situation concerns the elderly, then it’s advisable to keep our eye on them.
Their proximity to that final stage of life and the fact that, sometimes, the pet was their sole companion, makes this a particularly painful loss.
While it may not always be the case, we should also consider other pets which used to live with the deceased pet.
Although we’re used to thinking of them as free animals, they do also have feelings, and might – as a result of the death – change their behavior. This means they may sleep more, eat less or even be noisier than usual.
In this case, it’s advisable not to change our routines too much, nor the environment in which they live, allowing them to recover as soon as possible. According to various studies, it has been demonstrated that such pets will be back to normal within six months of their companion’s death.
How to get over the loss of a pet
It’s important to realize that there is no single way because, just as no two people are alike, there is no exact formula to deal with it. Each will experience the situation and face it in their way. Hence we want to discuss here several different ways of coping with the loss.
1. Cry as much as you need, if necessary
Don’t worry about showing your feelings and don’t hold back. Remember, your pet was part of your family, and although not everyone may understand, this is the best way cope. Ignore people who think “it was only a cat.” These people have no idea what joy a pet brings to our lives.
The pet was your friend, your companion and one of your greatest supporters, and you need to grieve as a way to process his death.
2. You most likely feel pain, anger, denial, guilt, anxiety…
Especially if you had to say goodbye to him in haste or due to illness. This is entirely reasonable and once again, forms part of the grieving process. And remember: “You are not responsible for his death.”
All you have to do is try to take your loss on board as quickly as possible. Let’s just say it’s a way of “hitting rock bottom” to then, from there, start getting better emotionally.
3. Share your grief with people who you know will understand you.
These are usually people who also live with a pet and love it dearly. Do the same thing with family and close friends. Talk to them about your pet, what it was like, the things it liked, what it meant to you…
This way of expressing your emotions and opening up to people makes you feel less alone, less isolated and helps you overcome your loss faster.
4. Find individuals who are going through, or have been through the same situation, via support groups.
Incredible as it may sound, these do exist and can be extremely helpful.
5. After a reasonable time has passed, look for an activity or hobby to keep you fulfilled
Or at least busy, forcing you to socialize with other people and thus avoiding staying isolated and falling into a depression. Of course, you can have time alone, but this will always need to be balanced.
6. If, despite all this, you continue experiencing apathy, depression or even insomnia, consult a professional.
A psychologist can give you the exact therapy to get through it.
7. Although not a suggestion for dealing with your grief that we would personally employ, adopting another pet may help us progress.
We believe that you should allow a certain amount of time to pass, and complete the period of mourning. Otherwise, we run the risk of trying to replace our dear friend with this new kitty.
Various options exist to help us remember our pet as the year’s pass. These includes:
- Burying it in a place you can visit;
- Holding a memorial service;
- Planting a tree in its memory;
- Creating an album with your photos;
- Uploading these to a virtual cemetery;
- Making a charitable donation in your pet’s name, etc.
The option we think most appropriate is to adopt another pet in need of our love and give it the same quality of life our old friend had.
Several studies have shown that the death of a pet close to us can cause insomnia and even dietary issues. It has also been shown that people who live with a cat take longer to overcome their loss than those living with a dog.
Nevertheless, we can say that everything can be overcome and that “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
And you, have you lost a dear little friend? If you like, you can tell us your experiences to help other people who are going through this difficult moment too.