Some people won’t understand pet loss. But there are lots of wonderful people who do.
You may find it easier to be around friends who are supportive and avoid those who don’t for a little while.
There are also lots of organisations who have local support groups as well as pet bereavement counsellors and end of life doulas.
Pet Loss Support
Pet Bereavement Guide Step 4 – support if you need it. You may simply want to be left alone for a day to deal with your emotions by yourself. You may want to have 1:1 counselling with a pet bereavement counsellor. Or you may need something in-between. There isn’t a ‘right’ way or a ‘wrong’ way to cope with the loss of your pet. Just your way. And this may feel different every day or may start big at the beginning and dwindle to something manageable in a couple of days or months.
Here are just a few ideas of organisations and individuals that can provide you with the help you might need whilst dealing with the loss of you pet.
PDSA – People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals
Maria Dickin set up the PDSA in 1917 to provide care for the sick and injured animals of people who couldn’t cover the cost of vet bills. She opened her first clinic in Whitechapel during World War I to help EastEnders living in poverty the chance to receive welfare for their animals. Maria also created the Dickin Medal to recognise the outstanding acts of bravery of services animals, it has become known as the animal Victoria Cross. You can see a list of the amazing recipients here. The PDSA created the Gold Medal in 2002 to reward acts of bravery and duty and is known as the equivalent of the George Cross, and you can see the list of courageous animals here.
The PDSA is the largest private employer of verts in the UK, I was surprised by this too! And provides much needed animal welfare and end of life support for people who cannot cover their vet’s bills in veterinary surgery. They also have a really helpful advice page about judging the quality of your pet’s life, you can find out more by clicking this link.
They set up the PDSA National Collection of Pet Memories and the number in the UK is 0800 591248, you will be passed to a member of their pet legacy team who can help talk you through a range of options for pet loss.
Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support
The Blue Cross started out on the streets of London in 1897, it was originally named ‘Our Dumb Friends League’. This wonderful group of animal lovers goal was to encourage more kindness towards the horses that were such a vital part of everyday life in the capital. They set up horse ambulances to transport injured animals to hospital and started issuing horse sun hats to keep these hard-working animals cool in the hot summer months. They also set up the first Animal Hospital which was the first one in the world.
They set up their pet bereavement service in 1994 with a dedicated phone line for people who had lost their pet. These were the first people I called when I lost April. It was useful to speak to someone who could let me talk about what had happened and how I felt. This service has now been extended to a live chat service as well as their private Facebook group.
For more information check out their website.
The Cat’s Protection League started in 1927 when Jessey Wade gathered together a group of cat lovers in London who wanted to raise the status of our feline friends from pests to the much adored companion animals that they are today. They have campaigned tirelessly to look after cats and also have a great ‘Paws to Listen’ grief support service – the number in the UK is 0800 024 94 94 – and can talk through any cat-related issues you have with either end of life care or bereavement.
Useful Grief Publications
If you have lost your dog then I would thoroughly recommend Jeannie Wycherley book Losing My Best Friend, you can purchase here. It is focussed solely on dog loss but I found it useful helping me work through some really old grief stuff I had around my childhood pal Tommy.
The wonderful Dawn Murray has loads of pet bereavement experience and has written a few books that I found super helpful when I lost April. You can purchase her latest book Surviving Pet Loss here.
Wendy Van de Poll is the American pet grief guru and has a series of books that deal with pet loss. It’s a little American in places, that’s not a criticism just a head’s up, but how can you not listen to a woman who has run wild with wolves! You can get her Cat Loss book here.
My two favourite books that deal with pet loss are Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr and Always and Forever by Alan Durant. Maybe it’s because I’m still a kid at heart but Kerr’s obvious love and empathy pour out of every page and illustration, and it’s perfect for helping younger, and even older children, find a space to be with their loss. Reading this with your children allows them to ask questions and learn to understand that their emotions are normal.
Sharing our Pet Loss Stories
I found writing about April the most helpful thing for me, writing helps me to let my emotions out and process them. When I first started writing I worried that people would think that I was weak or that other people wouldn’t be having the same thoughts and feelings but it quickly became very clear that I was not alone. Friends and readers of my blog would write to me and thank me for giving them permission to talk about their experiences of losing a pet.
So I am now talking to people who want to share their stories. Together we can explore all that it means to be gifted these amazing friendships, to be able to look back and celebrate all the wonderful memories. I passionately believe that talking about our loss can guide us through each bereavement journey. For they are never forgotten, not in our hearts.
You can read these stories here and if you would like to share your story please let me know by emailing email@example.com or calling 01626 798198 or via social media by commenting on our pages at Facebook or Instagram
Pet Loss Support
And don’t forget I’m always here if you need me, I’ve been helping people for over 10 years and will never tell you that they were ‘just a pet’.
For more advice on Pet Bereavement click here
For advice on what to do with your pet’s ashes click here.