We are a nation of animal lovers, making pets of all types truly part of our families. It’s no surprise then that the death of a beloved pet can hit many people as hard as the passing of a human family member.
Where children are concerned the loss of a pet is often their first experience of death and grief and therefore very important to deal with as sensitively – yet realistically – as possible.
Remember that grief is a very personal thing and of course all individuals will react differently but no one should feel ashamed about how they feel, or believe that it’s not appropriate to grieve for an animal friend.
Ultimately we take animals into our family homes and they in turn provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you've already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss..... knowing that it is okay to grieve when your pet dies.
Here at Memory Bloom we have put together some tips to help you deal with the grief of losing a pet
- Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel - Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
- Reach out to others who have lost pets - There are a number of pet loss hotlines, and support groups. If your own friends and family members are not sympathetic about pet loss, find someone who is. Often, another person who has also experienced the loss of a beloved pet may better understand what you’re going through.
- Seek professional help if you need it - If your grief is persistent and interferes with your ability to function seek medical advice from your GP in the first instance
- Rituals can help healing - A funeral or memorial service can help you and your family members openly express your feelings and help bring some feeling of ‘closure’.
- Create a legacy - Preparing a memorial, planting a tree in memory of your pet, compiling a photo album or scrapbook, or otherwise sharing the memories you enjoyed with your pet, can create a legacy to celebrate the life of your animal companion. Remembering the fun and love you shared with your pet can help you to eventually move on.
- Look after yourself - The stress of losing a pet can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to release endorphins and help boost your mood.
- If you have other pets, try to maintain your normal routine - Surviving pets can also experience loss when a pet dies, or they may become distressed by your sorrow. Maintaining their daily routines, or even increasing exercise and play times, will not only benefit the surviving pets but can also help you too.
Above all remember that sorrow and grief are perfectly normal and natural responses to death. Like grief for our friends and loved ones, grief for our animal companions can only be dealt with over time.
Grieving is a highly individual experience. Some people find grief following the loss of a pet comes in stages, where they experience different feelings such as denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance and resolution. Others find that their grief is more cyclical, coming in waves or a series of highs and lows. For many the grieving process happens only gradually and it cannot be forced or hurried – and nor should it be as, throughout life, there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Please also bear in mind that trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it. By expressing your grief, you’ll likely need less time to heal than if you withhold or “bottle up” your feelings. Finding ways to cope with your loss can bring you closer to the day when memories bring smiles instead of tears.
Memory Bloom is the only product of its kind designed to help mark the passing of a pet by providing a living, flowering memorial and providing everything needed for holding a simple ceremony. The kits contain bio degradable containers, compost and seeds as well as a special story book and little notes and markers to personalise your own memorial. The idea is that some of a pets ashes or small memento (name tag/collar) can be placed into the compost along with the seeds to provide a focal point for remembrance as the flowers – a mix of beautiful Anemones, Forget-me-nots, Californian Poppies and insect and bee friendly wildflowers - begin to grow. It should be kept indoors until green shoots start to emerge and then planted outside where the containers will simply degrade and break down into the soil and the flowers will bloom each year from spring to late autumn.
Johanna Buitelaar, Memory Bloom’s founder and owner, came up with the idea originally because of her own experience losing her Jack Russell Grooby when she was a teenager. Years later the idea became reality because of another elderly Jack Russell and family pet, Jasper, and her realisation that sooner or later she would have to explain to her young children that Jasper was no longer with them.
Johanna says, ”In the end Jasper lived to the ripe old age of 21 and when I had to have him put to sleep I was absolutely devastated. The children and I made a memory bloom for Jasper; I couldn’t believe how much easier it made things. I explained what had happened through the book that I’d written and the children had something physical to do to enable them to gain closure.”
By reading the Story Book and planting the Memory Bloom bulbs a sense of closure can be achieved and the gravity of the loss can be eased by giving a treasured pet the send off that they deserve. The living, flowering memorial then offers a focal point for everyone to be able to remember and celebrate the life of their beloved pet.
Memory Bloom offers the perfect way to remember your beloved pet or a thoughtful gift for a grieving friend. The kits come with a choice of 3 different pot colours (red, pink and yellow) and retail at £28.95 For more information visit www.memorybloom.co.uk or Telephone : 01790 754 670
Tagged in Animals