Let’s face it, pets die. Some live longer than others, but most live only a fraction of our own lifetimes. So, how do you deal with the loss of a beloved pet? Here are some ways, and more information, about how to handle an experience that can be quite as devastating to a child (or an adult) as the loss of a loved one…
Should I Euthanize?
Pets can die suddenly from natural causes, or, more often, from accidents. But it mostly comes down to the Vet. Animals don’t express the pain reflex like humans do, so suffering is often in silence. A good vet knows when to end it. Rely on their judgement.
Should I Stay?
Higher forms of mammals, including cats and dogs, are quite sensitive and, in their last moments, it can be very comforting to them not to feel alone. Although it may be painful, staying to the end is the highest tribute you can pay to a pet.
Handling Pet Remains
After a pet dies, there are several ways of disposing of the remains. In a Vet hospital or shelter, there are usually systems and routines in place, but they can be impersonal. And costly. If your locality allows it, consider a private burial on your own land. And, if your budget allows, there is the completely rational solution of interring your pet in a cemetery intended for just such an occurrence. And, like all burial grounds, they can be very cathartic to visit.
How To Tell The Kids
It’s simple. Be honest, but gentle. Kids are surprisingly empathetic, even on such large issues as death. And, it may lead to a child’s better, more healthy understanding of loss and grief over a family member or other acquaintance down the road. It’s just another way our furry friends can help us, even beyond their own lifetimes.
Is Grief Normal?
Of course. Some pets live as long as 20 or more years. They can be an hourly companion that whole time. In fact, it would be rather unusual if you didn’t grieve. Let the tears, and even the laughter, flow.
Share The Grief
A family pet’s passing can be a significant event. If you feel the need to be unburdened, or see overwhelming grief in others, try to be understanding and express your own emotions if need be. Anyone who’s been through it will tell you, you’re not alone. And, you’re not crazy…
Do Other Pets Grieve?
The higher mammals do. Even some intelligent birds will notice a change. Don’t count on lizards, reptiles or lower mammal forms. But cats, and, especially dogs, can and will share your grief and sense of loss. Indulge them, And yourself…
Should I Get A New Pet Right Away?
Except for assistive animals, generally the answer is no. Allow some time to pass before choosing a new pet. It helps the healing process and prepares both you and the new animal for a whole new life.
Should I ‘Replace’ My Pet?
It depends. Are you partial to a particular breed? Is there room at home for larger animals? Will you be flooded with old memories? Consider a different direction when you’re ready. But, keep in mind, there have been over 20 Lassies in movies and on TV. But you can’t tell one of them apart from the other. And, that has been very comforting for millions of Lassie fans over more than 50 years. And, it may just be the thing you need to help you get through the rest of your own lifetime…