Remember that everyone grieves in different ways
Grief is a complicated emotion and the process can and is different for everyone. Each grief can also be very different to a previous grief. The journey for each bereavement is as unique as each pet.
Circle of Life
You might find that you are able to accept the loss quickly and do not need any support. This does NOT mean that you did not love your pet deeply and miss them hugely. Perhaps you are just be able to come to terms with the circle of life, you love your pet and now they have gone.
However you may be absolutely devastated and need help and support to get through this painful journey despite feeling okay about a previous pet death. Our ability to deal with grief varies on a huge number of different factors. It does NOT mean that you are weak or incapable. It does mean that you could benefit from support and that this particular journey may take a little longer. And that is okay.
Suppressing your feelings
You may find that you are ‘coping well’ and that nobody is aware of how you are feeling inside. It is important to recognise that you may be suppressing feelings and that they might pop back up at a later date. This is also very common and you might be putting these feelings aside until you are ready to deal with them.
Sometimes you might have experienced deep feelings of loss when you were aware that your pet’s life was nearing it’s end and that you had dealt with the grief. It can then be a huge shock when your pet actually dies and these feelings re-emerge. Again this is normal and you are not alone in feeling this.
You may experience grief when you have been working with a pet as a career and you have been forced to separate either for your career or theirs. This can also happen when you divorce or separate from a partner and you no longer have access to your pet.
I experienced two griefs with my cat April. I was distraught when she went missing and then thought I had come to terms with her loss. When she was found I was knocked sideways with grief and really struggled explaining this to our children and friends.
Stages of Grief
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, each grief will follow it’s own unique pattern and will differ according to our state of mind, our previous experience of grief and ultimately our relationship with our pet.
The experts suggest that there are stages of grief:
- Shock and denial
You may find that you naturally flow through these stages or that you jump around many of them at once and that some stages are repeated, as mine were.
It is really important to feed your body well during a stressful time, I have a wonderful breakfast recipe that can help you start the day in a better place. The nutrients will arm you with lots of great stuff for combating anything that the day will throw at you.
Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey
I love this recipe because it feels more like a pudding than a breakfast which makes me smile straight away, and it doesn’t taste healthy – double win. If pears aren’t in season then you can adapt it to apples or whatever fruit you have available, just remember to adjust the cooking time.
The chap who makes our wooden pet urns also makes amazing honey so I’m extremely lucky to be able to use that. Simon’s beehives are just up the road from where we live so the taste changes according to which flower pollen the bees were collecting when the honey was made. This is supposed to help you to build up an immunity to hay fever if you’re a sufferer.
- 2 large ripe pears
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp honey
- 4 walnuts/pecans chopped
- Natural yoghurt to dollop on top.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Cut the pears in half
- Scoop out the seeds
- Sprinkle with cinnamon, add the chopped walnuts on top and drizzle ½ teaspoon of honey on each half
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes
- Allow to cool and then dollop on your yoghurt.
You will start your day with lots of great vitamins and slow releasing energy.
Go for a walk
If you can manage it a walk straight after breakfast will also help to start pumping round the endorphins which will combat anxiety and negative stress. Are you missing a walk if that was something you did regularly with your pet? You the Ramblers Association has a great search tool for finding good walks. You can walk them alone or with a willing friend or you can join as a member and walk as a group.
I found this exercise on the NHS website and it really helped me when I felt a bit overwhelmed:
This calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
You will get the most benefit if you do it regularly, as part of your daily routine.
You can do it standing up, sitting in a chair that supports your back, or lying on a bed or yoga mat on the floor.
- Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
- If you’re lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight, or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
- If you’re sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
- If you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you’re in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
- Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.
And remember it won’t always feel like this
For more advice on Pet Bereavement click here
For advice on what to do with your pet’s ashes click here.