What Options Do I Have When My Pet Dies?
When a pet dies we can feel at a loss as to know what to do. There is no denying, that for those who have lost loved pets, this bereavement can be devastating. A maelstrom of feelings look set to overwhelm us and the associated grief can feel unbearable. For many of us, our pets are very much part of the family – they are one of us, integrated into every part of our lives and becoming friends and trusted companions.
How you dispose of your pet is also a decision that is as individual as the pet you have just lost. Take time to think about what you need. There are Pet Cemeteries but they may not be for everyone. Within Surrey there are two pet cemeteries: one near Cobham and the other in Godstone.
In Cobham at Silvermere Haven , you can have your pet collected from your home or vets and taken to their cemetery. Here, they will hold your pet until a day is set for the burial or cremation. If you choose to bury your pet you can have a small celebrant-lead ceremony in the Attending Room – where your pet will be laid out before going to the prepared grave for your final goodbyes. If you choose to have your pet cremated, a small ceremony can still be held in the Attending Room where you can say goodbye, after which they will return your pet’s ashes to you in your chosen urn for you to decide what to do with.
At Surrey Pet Cemetery in Godstone, they also offer a similar service with options to have your pet cremated or buried and laid in the garden of remembrance where your beloved pets ashes can be interred and a plaque placed if you wish.
Do it Yourself pet funeral
Some people might prefer to bury their pet in their own garden – perhaps saying a few words of remembrance with the family all around. Indeed, many people introduce the concept of death to their children through the death of a family pet. Whilst others will not feel able to do this, the choice has to be at your discretion.
Why Are Some People So Affected When Their Pet Dies?
It seems that there is nothing more divisive in the UK than a tweet from a Royal over the death of their beloved pet. The country is completely split with no middle-ground:
- Those that have been greatly affected by the loss of a pet.
- Those that are completely baffled and fail to see any significance in the death of a furry friend at all.
It all comes down to the relationship which has been established, often over many years: animals are sentient beings and as such, they show emotions towards us in a similar way that humans do.
I say similar, because in many respects the love between animal and human is often a more simple affair. There are rarely any hard feelings expressed from our pets towards us, no matter what we do (unless you happen to have a cat, in which case you will already know different rules apply altogether).
They make us laugh, they bring a smile to our faces and for many, bring an enormous sense of wellbeing to our lives. They rely on us for their warmth, food, exercise and fun in much the same way that children do and as such, become fully established within our family units.
Is it any wonder that Kate Middleton tweeted “Dogs are part of the family and losing one is heartbreaking”. Lupo had clearly become a right royal family member – playing with the children and going with them on their family walks and holidays. Lupo probably greeted them with a very waggy tail every time they returned like most dogs do – even if the time apart was only five minutes!
Pets Show Us Unconditional Love
Such devotion and adoration leaves us feeling loved unconditionally and who wouldn’t want that? We, in return, spend much of our time reciprocating by offering strokes, food and exercise and so the relationship bond is set.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the human-animal bond is a “mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals”, one which humans have been benefiting from for hundreds of years!
Quite often it can seem as if animals are even more intuitive than some humans. They can sense when we are upset, agitated and happy, and just by their presence, bring a sense of calm and serenity.
There has been some research into the ways that people can benefit from having pets and it seems that we definitely get more from the relationship than they ever do.
Benefits Of Keeping Pets
It is well established that stroking a pet reduces stress and this results in lowered blood pressure! Studies have also shown the mental health benefits of having pets, stating that pets can relieve feelings of depression and anxiety. There are other health benefits too, with further biological studies suggesting that children bought up with animals have greater immunity from allergies in adulthood. Who wouldn’t want that?
Pets Are Non Judgmental!
Having a pet is like having the ultimate best friend; they don’t care if you spend the day in your PJ’s, how much money you make, what car you drive or even how tidy your house is. As soon as they see you, pets are happy to have you just the way you are. How many of us can say with confidence that our friends and even family always view us in this way? It is no surprise then, that those who have known a love like this, grieve terribly when their pets die.
It’s not only the lack of that waggy tail, or soft pointy ears, the fluffy feathers, or shiny scales that we miss but the relationship – their comfort when we are sad, joy when happy and just plain goofball-ness when they have a mad five minutes. Given all this, surely it would be stranger if we didn’t feel anything?
Of course it is not all plain sailing, having a pet comes with responsibility and that can bring a certain amount of stress in and of itself. However, the research shows time and again that the benefits of pet ownership outweighs all the negatives.
When our beloved pet has passed on, how do we mark their passing in a way that is fitting for the love they have shown us, and a way that enables us to move on through the grieving process?
Overwhelming Feelings At The Death Of A Pet
It is clear that the process of friendship you have had with your pet is on a deeply significant level. The grief you feel at their passing will undoubtedly be on a par with that of losing a human. It is very likely that you will be affected emotionally.
Feelings of shock, disbelief, numbness, anger, pain, hurt, sadness and guilt may be felt at this time. Unfortunately, what can sometimes add to this, is the way that others may not understand the extent of your grief. It can feel as if they don’t care, some people may even tell you to, “just get another one”. This can feel very hurtful and isolating as people you around struggle to comprehend the depths of your pain.
Friends And Family May Struggle With The Depths Of Your Pain
It is important to do what you feel is right for you, regardless of what anyone else says or thinks. All bereavements need space and time in order to process, so give yourself time. Don’t feel you need to rush out and replace your pet immediately, allow yourself space to grieve.
The point is, whatever you chose for your pet needs to feel right for you. This will enable you to move forward with your loss. Whether you have felt the sting of the passing of a pet or not, I am reminded of the words of Francis Weller:
“No one goes in search of loss; rather it finds us and reminds us of the temporary gift we have been given”.
If you have been impacted by this blog and would like to find out more about holding a celebrant-led ceremony for your pet either as a memorial at your home or at a pet cemetery please get in touch – I would love to hear about your pets and how much joy they bring into your lives.