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The Ralph Site - pet loss support

Welcome to The Ralph Site Blog

Hello, and welcome to The Ralph Site Blog.

We celebrate the unique place that pets have in our lives through regular features and practical advice on pet bereavement and other animal-related matters.

Pet loss support

The Ralph Site is a non-profit online pet loss support resource which provides support to pet carers coping with the loss of a beloved companion. There are a website and an active Facebook community with a public page and a private group.

Pet carers’ community

The Ralph Site aims to provide a non-judgmental and supportive place for those pet carers who have lost a much-loved member of the family. We know all too well the pain and heartbreak that accompanies the passing of your pet. And whilst these pets can never be replaced, we may find room to enrich our lives further with others when the time is right.

At The Ralph Site, we understand the special bond between you and your pets.

Thank you for your support.

 

The unique challenges of pet loss grief

Pet loss grief is a type of disenfranchised grief, which is something we’ve talked about in previous blogs on The Ralph Site. This means that your relationship with your pet – or, certainly, your feelings about that relationship – isn’t always recognised by others, especially in wider society.

Pet loss grief falls in the same category as the grief caused by a miscarriage or the death of an ex-spouse, as just a few examples.

It can be incredibly hard to freely acknowledge disenfranchised grief. In this week’s blog, we wanted to take a look at some of the factors that affect pet loss grief and what we can do towards creating better understanding and support.

What role did the pet have?

One of the challenges of loving then losing a pet is that the impact of this experience can differ greatly from one person to the next.

Within a single family, there will be different levels of loss depending on the type of pet, their role in the household, the pet’s age and the age of the family members, individual relationships with the pet, routines, associations and much more.

The death of a pet can upset the balance within a household, making everyone readjust their positions and roles.

But beyond the family, people may not recognise the role of the pet. If a child, parent, partner or sibling dies, for example, even looking in from the outside, we can begin to empathise about what this might mean to the wider family. But when a pet dies, many people struggle to understand where the animal fitted in the family dynamic.

Society lacks agreement about the value of animal life

How pet loss is perceived by others will vary enormously.

Some people will never choose to have a pet in their home, therefore they may view pet loss as something we voluntarily invite into our lives. Indeed, many people believe that pet loss is an inevitable part of the whole pet ‘ownership’ experience so they can’t understand why it comes as such a blow.

Other people view animals as a commodity, a belonging over which they have ownership and that can be freely bought and sold, kept or disposed of without emotional consequences.

There are some that place more value on animals that fulfil a ‘job’ within society, such as service dogs, racehorses or farmed animals, for example. Anecdotal evidence suggests that carers of therapy dogs that are well-known in the local community often receive greater support when their dog dies than pet carers in other circumstances.

Others provide diligent care to animals but in the context of livestock that’s ultimately destined for someone’s dinner plate and they will see this in terms of a ‘natural order’.

Some care deeply for their pets but maintain a level of emotional detachment that makes their passing easier to manage.

At the same time, a growing number of us see our pets as a central, much-loved family member (more about this below), which means we may feel a depth of grief that just isn’t expected by people in the other cross-sections of society mentioned above. In many ways, The Ralph Site was created to give this final group a greater voice.

Society minimises the pain of pet loss

Sadly, we live in a society where pet loss is frequently minimised and trivialised. It may even be the butt of jokes.

Think about how often TV shows and films turn the death of a pet into a comedy of errors or joke about the bereaved person needing time off to mourn.

Research has found that the lack of societal support is a significant factor in preventing pet carers from progressing through their grief.

Some of the key observations from the research are that there is “no collective societal recognition and support of expressions of grief for animals”, as well as a “lack of societal agreement about the value of animal life”.

Worse yet, some people still believe that pet carers who openly grieve for their pets probably formed an intense emotional attachment because they are in some way “marginalised” from society or “deficient in human contact”. This reinforces an unhelpful stigma that pet loss grief is abnormal when, of course, it is anything but.

The level of attachment

Research has found that many pet carers will make the same sacrifices for their pets that they would make for a human family member.

 One study found that 80% of us would not give up a pet, even if they caused severe allergies and health problems for the carer.

Changes in society, such as a larger than ever number of child-free couples, longer lifespans, changing roles in families – including people moving away from their wider family group – and a greater understanding of animal psychology all mean that pets often serve as family members.

As we know from our lived experiences, pets provide unconditional love and companionship, a non-judgemental presence at the end of the day. Most us of feel that, in terms of a nurturing and loving connection, our pets give as much as they receive.

One researcher, Liz Margolies, has even suggested that pets can display the qualities we often look for in a mother – devotion, forgiveness, affection, an uncritical attitude, and availability – or fulfil the role of a child: “may be held, remain dependent, allow the carer to offer maternal love with less anxiety than with children, and often permit them to feel competent in their role as parent”.

Inevitably though, these deeper levels of attachment mean that pet carers experience a deeper level of grief. Society just hasn’t caught up in terms of its milestones, rituals and support. Thankfully, a number of excellent pet loss support services exist now. Hopefully, we will see more counsellors and therapists recognising the roles companion animals play in our lives so that people can access help from a wide range of sources.

The role of caretaker

Researchers Quackenbush and Graveline have observed in their extensive research into pet bereavement that the first emotion most people experience when a pet dies in guilt. This is compared to ‘denial’ in human-to-human bereavement.

This is because we take the role of caretakers for our pets and often feel that we have let them down in “either an emotional, physical or financial way”.

It’s a natural response to explore what you didn’t do for your pet or what you could have done differently. You might wish you tried a different treatment method or got a second opinion from another vet, for example. Because our pets can’t talk to us or offer their own opinions about their health or status, we have to make decisions about their life and death without their input. This can have huge emotional consequences.

How euthanasia affects pet loss grief

Another factor in pet loss grief is the availability of euthanasia. People often describe euthanasia as the ‘final gift’ we can give our dying pets but, again, research shows that the responsibility weighs heavily.

The evidence suggests that around 50% of us feel guilty for having our pets euthanised. You’re far more likely to experience guilt if you’re worried you let your pet go too soon or you’re uncomfortable with the way the vet presented the need for euthanasia. People sometimes feel pushed into a decision, especially in an emergency situation where there wasn’t time to think.

Also, if you feel your actions in some way contributed towards your animal friend having to be ‘put to sleep’, it can be hard to find solace. There’s no doubt that euthanasia informs our pet loss grief, especially in the early days, weeks and months.

Links to other relationships and experiences

Pets frequently provide a link to other relationships and experiences.

For example, you may become part of a friendly walking group with your dog and find friendship through that group but, when your dog dies, you may suddenly feel like you don’t belong.

Equally, if you’ve had a pet throughout your childhood who dies just as you hit adulthood, it can feel like the literal death of your childhood.

Someone who has lost their romantic partner may struggle with a double layer of grief when the pet they both shared passes away, especially if the pet gave them purpose and routine when their partner died (Ricky Gervais’ series After Life depicts this dynamic beautifully).

Even the loss of routine when a pet dies can have huge ramifications for the bereaved pet carer.

Conclusion

What is clear above all else is that grief of an animal’s death is a normal reaction.

There are many factors that we need to recognise to better support bereaved pet carers and to legitimise their feelings within our wider societies.

As researchers Archer and Winchester observed:

“The personal meaning of what has been lost is a good predictor of the intensity of subsequent grief.”

We need to give people space to explore and talk about the meaning of what has been lost. It doesn’t matter if the pet was a dog, cat, horse, bird, guinea pig, lizard or fish (or one of the other wonderful animals with which we share our lives). What matters is how the bereaved pet carer feels and the knowledge that they are not alone.

Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Grief and relationships: What happens when your loved ones struggle with your grief?

What happens when a family pet dies but the different members of your household all grieve in different ways?

Are you finding that your partner is losing patience with your grief (or vice versa)?

Is grief starting to affect your relationships with your partner or other loved ones? It’s important to recognise that pet loss grief can significantly affect our relationships. It’s a topic that we need to talk about more so that those of you who are experiencing relationship difficulties of any kind know that you’re not alone.

Everyone grieves differently

As we’ve said numerous times on The Ralph Site, everyone grieves differently. This means that losing the same pet can affect every family member differently too, looking unrecognisable from one person to the next.

Not only will your grief be influenced by your personality traits (for example, you might wear your heart on your sleeve, while your partner wants to ‘fix’ everything with a practical solution), but your grief will also be shaped by your individual relationship with your pet. If you were the main caregiver, you may feel the loss more keenly than family members who had less contact with your pet.

Grief doesn’t have a deadline

People often believe that grief has a limit, an acceptable time by which you should be ‘moving on’.

In The Ralph Site’s Pet Loss Support Group on Facebook, members frequently comment that their friends or family are putting pressure on them to stop grieving. “They say I should be doing better than this by now” or “Apparently, I’m wallowing in grief” are typical comments. Or people come into the group feeling desperately unheard; “Does anyone else feel like their partner doesn’t understand their grief?” is a common question.

Unfortunately, because grief looks so different from one person to the next, we can only base our expectations on our own experiences.

The gap between perspectives from one family member to the next can be a massive source of contention, disappointment or even outrage. Family members can end up feeling bad for various reasons. For example, your partner may see you struggling and feel guilty that they’re not more openly cut up too. They may even feel a bit resentful that you feel able to express your grief, while they don’t know how to.

Grieving each other as well as your pet

When you’ve suffered a bereavement, the people around you are often grieving too – not only for your pet but also for the life you had and the people you all were when your pet was alive.

If you’ve been hit particularly hard, your partner, children, parents or siblings may feel like they’ve lost you as well. This can be scary – will you ever come back to them? If you have loved ones who are ‘fixers’ in life, they may feel incredibly frustrated and powerless right now. It’s clear you’re suffering; all they want to do is make things better and they can’t.

You’re all on the same team

When faced with someone who’s grieving very differently to you or who doesn’t seem to be grieving at all, it’s easy to believe that they’re not on your side.

Your own frustration, fear, sadness and anger can turn your loved ones into the enemy. You might think, What’s wrong with them? Don’t they have any emotions? Why am I alone in how I feel? How can they have forgotten about him/her so quickly?

If this is happening to you, try to remember that the enemy here is actually the loss that you have suffered and the grief you’re experiencing, not your loved ones. Although it might not always seem like it, they’re on your side.

Ways to stay connected

Communicating your feelings effectively can be incredibly hard when you’re grieving. You may feel like you don’t have the mental capacity or energy to have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones.

If you can, try to state what you need or how you feel to your friends and family.

If your partner is a fixer, acknowledge, “I know you want to make this better and I love you for it but you can’t. All I ask is that you give me time”.

Or if your loved one is grieving very openly and emotionally and it’s too much for you, perhaps you can tell them, “I can see you’re hurting and I want to be there for you but I also need some space to grieve alone”.

You could remind your family that grief is a natural and healthy response to death, rather than a medical condition to be cured. Stress that there is no deadline after which your grief will end so remind your loved ones that pressure doesn’t help you. Also, if you can, let them know that you’re there for them if they need to talk too.

Reach out to your wider support network

It’s hard to see beyond grief. Sometimes, we expect our immediate family – especially our romantic partners – to take on all of our emotions as their own but this isn’t really reasonable. They may need time and space sometimes to process everything they’re feeling.

This is why it’s always a good idea to reach out to your wider support network if you can. This could be your extended family members, friends and/or a bereavement counsellor or support group. The more people you’re able to speak to, the more people can provide practical and emotional support in your life.

Practice forgiveness

Perhaps one of the most important things we can do in the face of grief is to practice forgiveness in our relationships.

We have to forgive our loved ones for not grieving in the same way as us because they are individuals too. Grief doesn’t come with a handbook for how to behave.

We also have to forgive ourselves for feeling distracted, disinterested, forgetful or ill-equipped to heal our relationships quickly and painlessly.

Forgiveness is especially important in cases of pet loss because we often blame ourselves for their death, be it through an accident, illness, natural causes or euthanasia, or if a pet goes missing.

If other family members were involved in your pet’s passing in some way, this can put a huge strain on your relationship. Is there someone that you’re struggling to forgive right now? It can be particularly hard if it’s a partner or child.

Forgive your pet too. They would have stayed with you forever if they could.

In the end, it all comes down to intentions. No-one intended for your pet to die. Your family don’t intend to grieve differently to you. They don’t intend for things to be tough between you right now.

Once you feel the truth of this, it becomes easier to forgive and find a way back to each other, even in the darkest days of grief.

Just know that you’re not alone.

Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Ten ideas for your pet memorial garden

With much of the world in lockdown in response to the coronavirus at the time of writing this blog (May 2020), people have understandably turned their attention to gardening to help them relax and pass the time.

If you’re looking for a way to memorialise a much-loved pet, how about creating a memorial garden (or section of your garden) dedicated to their memory? To help you plan the perfect space to celebrate the life and love you shared with your animal friend, we’ve put together a list of ideas:

1. Paint a name rock or memorial stone

If you do a search for memory garden ideas on Pinterest, you can see some beautiful ideas for how to hand-paint a rock for your memory garden. These rocks feature gorgeous, vibrant colours and can be decorated with anything at all to commemorate your pet. Paint their picture, their name, a comforting quote, flowers… the choice is yours. You could even paint a selection of rocks to place around your garden.

2. Plant Forget-Me-Nots

The tiny blue flowers of Forget-Me-Nots are said to symbolise faithful, enduring love and memories. It’s little wonder that many people chose to plant the flowers as a sign of remembrance for a pet or other loved one.

You could plant a bed of Forget-Me-Nots in your garden or confine them to a pot. They flower from May to October and grow best in damp, shady areas.

3. Paint a wooden seat or bench to sit in your garden

If you do create a memorial area for your pet in your garden, it’s important that you’re able to sit and enjoy the space. Many people feel closer to their deceased pets when they’re able to do this.

One lovely idea is to choose a wooden or metal seat or bench for your garden. You can paint wooden seats with your own design or words. There are some stunning ideas on Google Images.

4. Make a mosaic

Mosaics are another beautiful art form to use in a memorial garden. If you use materials designed for outdoors, a mosaic should last well in all weathers for years to come.

Again, a search for ‘how to do outdoor mosaic’ on Pinterest brings up hundreds of creative ideas for your garden. You could create decorations to hang from a tree, a mosaic path, mosaic bricks, a mosaic bench, mosaic tiles or anything else that fits with your space.

5. Wind chimes

As well as beautiful sights and smells in your pet’s memorial garden, you could add sound too in the form of wind chimes.

Many people find wind chimes calming and uplifting. Each gentle breeze offers up a reminder of your special pet.

6. Sun catchers

An alternative or complement to wind chimes is to hang sun catchers in your memorial garden. These can be made from glass or plastic and there are some easy home-crafting options using Mason jar lids.

Once again, Pinterest is a great starting point for ideas as a search for sun catchers shows.

7. Collar plant pot

If your memorial garden is in memory of a dog or cat, you could secure their collar around a special plant pot and fill it with your favourite shrub or flowers. Another option is to tie the collar around your pet’s water bowl and then use this as a flower pot.

It’s important to think about how your pet’s collar will stand up to bad weather. Many people use this idea indoors or in a sheltered area of their memorial garden.

8. A special tree

If you have room in your memorial garden, you could plant a special tree in memory of your pet.

The Impatient Gardener has a great article about how to choose a memorial tree and things to consider to ensure that it thrives.

9. Garden statues

These days, there are many companies and artisans who offer pet memorial statues. You should even be able to find someone who can create a personalised memorial of your pet. This could be in wood, metal, stone or other materials, depending on your tastes and budget. Etsy is a good starting point to see what sort of options are available.

10. Candles

Many cultures share the custom of lighting a candle for remembrance. It’s said to signify that the memory of the loved one still lives on and burns bright.

You can add candles to your pet’s memorial garden to illuminate it in the evenings or to light in a daily act of remembrance. There are some gorgeous outdoor candle and tealight holders available – your local supermarket may even have some inexpensive options.

You could personalise a candle holder using glass paints to create a special design commemorating your pet.

A unique space to remember your pet

There are no rules for building a pet’s memorial garden. The only thing that matters is creating a space, no matter how big or small, that gives you comfort and makes you feel close to your pet.

Many people choose to place, scatter or bury their pet’s remains in a memorial garden but, again, this is your personal choice.

We hope we have given you some ideas about what’s possible.

As always, know that you’re not alone.

Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Talking about pet loss grief

Talking about pet loss grief can be hard.

In fact, in our modern society, any conversations about grief can be challenging. Even when grieving for a human loved one, bereaved individuals frequently express that there’s pressure for their grief to end (or for them to at least stop talking about it!). Conversations about grief often include phrases like “I know I should be over this by now” or “I can’t believe I’m still upset” or “I know I’m being silly but…”.

Researching this topic, there certainly seems to be a deep discomfort about talking about death and loss. Bereaved people often observe that their friends and family feel socially awkward around them or even avoid them altogether, which can add another layer to the sense of loss.

Often listeners have good intentions. They don’t want to talk about grief because they worry it will make the bereaved person feel worse. What they don’t realise is that, when you’re grieving, it would be impossible to remind you about something that’s already on your mind twenty-four hours a day.

In many ways, not talking about grief just adds to the feelings of isolation and ‘otherness’. The space to talk can be an important part of making sense of what has happened.

Talking about loss in the past or present tense affects how listeners respond

According to one article from Psychology Today, a psychologist known as Dan McAdams has observed in his research that people are often most comfortable with hearing others talk about grief when it’s in a past context with a positive outcome.

In other words, it’s much easier to discuss a bereavement when the bereaved person can put it within a framework of, “I experienced this terrible loss but I came out of the other side as a stronger person”. McAdams describes this as a ‘redemption story’.

Apparently, people find it much harder to talk about grief when it’s still seen to be present. If someone says “I’m in pain and I don’t know how I’ll ever be happy again”, most humans are far more likely to struggle to be supportive. McAdams describes a life derailed by loss as a ‘contamination story’.

This sounds like a harsh description – no-one wants to see grief as something that contaminates – but the sentiment does seem to reflect what many of us experience.

McAdams suggests that people identify more closely with ‘contamination stories’, the stories of lives being turned upside down by grief, which is what makes them so much harder to hear. In turn, finding things harder to hear makes it harder to respond appropriately.

Talking about disenfranchised grief

Some people find pet loss grief harder to talk about because it’s a type of disenfranchised grief. In other words, a grief that isn’t always fully or even partly acknowledged by society.

Although there can be some wonderfully understanding individuals in the world, many people simply don’t understand pet bereavement. They believe that it’s part and parcel of caring for an animal.

And, of course, it is. We all know that our pets will probably die long before us. We take the risk of the pain of future loss in exchange for the joy we experience during our pets’ lifetimes. But knowing bereavement is inevitable eventually doesn’t make it less painful.

So what can you do if you’re finding it hard to talk about your pet loss? Or, worse yet, if you’re struggling to find someone who will listen? We’ve put together a few ideas:

  1. Accept that you are grieving – we often feel we should rush through grief but the truth is that it’s an appropriate response to losing someone you love.
  2. Recognise that people find it hard to know what to say in the face of grief – it’s not that people are uncaring, they may just not know how to support you.
  3. Be prepared to ask for what you need – you can help people overcome point two above by stating what would help you. Just saying, “I don’t need you to fix anything, I just need to talk” can take the pressure off.
  4. Feel all of your feelings – before they experience grief, people often think of it as a long period of sadness. In fact, grief contains so much more: sadness, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, anger, happiness, hope… all emotions have a place. In a stunningly honest interview, actor Rob Delaney described the fact that the rainbow of his emotions remains as varied as it was before but his grief for his two-year-old son has added a band of black.
  5. Tell your friends that you appreciate their support – your loved ones may feel like they don’t know what to do or say for the best. Let them know that they’re helping just by listening.
  6. Choose your audience – there may be people in your social circle who aren’t able to offer the support that you need right now. It’s OK to choose who you speak to about your grief.
  7. Seek help from dedicated grief support services – you may find it helpful to talk to fellow bereaved pet carers or pet bereavement counsellors. Both can provide a non-judgmental source of support from people who understand the depth of your loss. The Blue Cross pet bereavement helpline and The Ralph Site Pet Loss Support Group are both there for you.

Learning how to talk about pet loss grief

There’s no doubt that how we talk about grief is influenced by our cultures, our societies, our peer groups, our families and our personal experiences. As well, of course, as our relationship with the person, animal or thing (e.g. job) we’ve lost.

In many ways, the rituals surrounding human death serve the purpose of providing a roadmap for how to behave that isn’t dependent on language or even emotions. There’s a death certificate to complete, a funeral to plan, clothes to pick out for the deceased, a wake to attend and so on.

When a pet dies or goes missing, the rituals aren’t as clear, the steps not as ingrained in society. This means we have to find our own way forward in the face of loss. Without the framework of rituals, talking about grief takes on a new challenge.

Hopefully, the tips above will help.

Your grief is yours to talk about as much or as little as you need. Even if other members of your household are sharing the same loss, you will probably each talk about grief differently.

As ever, there is no right or wrong.

And if you do want to talk about your pet loss grief with other bereaved pet carers, know that The Ralph Site is here for you.

Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Pet loss grief and coronavirus: How to move forward while physical distancing or in isolation

In recent times, there have been a number of conversations in The Ralph Site Pet Loss Support Group about how the coronavirus and the need for physical distancing and isolation are making pet loss grief even harder to deal with.  These worries are likely to increase while the UK and other parts of the world are in lockdown.

As you know, grief is isolating even in normal circumstances but it may be even more so now without hugs and physical reassurance from anyone outside of your immediate household. Naturally, this is even more distressing if you live alone.

If you’re affected in any way, the first thing to know is that we’re here for you. In this article, we’re going to explore ways that you can still access support and comfort, despite being physically distanced from your usual network of friends and family.

1. Reach out for online support

Grief counsellors often recommend that mourners reach out for support, especially from face-to-face support groups. During this current coronavirus pandemic, physical group gatherings are no longer advisable. In fact, if you live in a part of the world that is in lockdown, all such groups will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, virtual support groups are still available. The Ralph Site Pet Loss Support Group on Facebook is one such group, a community of bereaved pet carers who listen to and support one another at all times. Pet bereavement helpline services are still available – the Blue Cross helpline is a good starting point for phone and email support.

2. Stay connected

Neither physical distancing nor self-isolation mean that you have to be socially disengaged. Our relationships are more important than ever in these uncertain times, so pick up the phone, send an email or even write a letter to your loved ones.

In some ways, these methods of communication carve out the space to talk one-to-one in a way that isn’t always possible during our usually busy lives.

3. Practice self-care

Mental health organisations are understandably warning that physical distancing and isolation during the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have an impact on many people’s mental health.

It’s incredibly important that you find ways to practice self-care, more so because you are grieving and may already feel fragile.

Self-care looks different to everyone and is about more than just having a relaxing bath or reading a book. It’s essentially anything you do to refuel and protect your physical, mental and emotional health.

This might be staying in touch with your friends and family, even if you can’t see them, or making a meal plan to ensure that you eat as healthily as possible. It could be limiting the amount of news you watch or making sure that you exercise at least once a day.

4. Find moments of joy

It can be tough to find moments of joy in life when you’re grieving but even small moments each day can make physical distancing easier to manage.

Is there anything that has happened today that made you smile?

It might have been birds singing in the garden or the sun shining through your window. Perhaps it was listening to Patrick Stewart reading a daily sonnet on social media or using the enforced time at home to do a virtual tour of one of the world’s famous museums. Whatever you find joyful, now is the time to tap into it. And please don’t feel guilty for doing so – your pet wouldn’t want you to be unhappy.

5. Talk to your pet

One of the most difficult things about physical distancing is knowing that it would have been easier with your pet by your side. Whatever species, they would have been a constant and calming companion during these uncertain times.

Even though your pet isn’t physically with you any more, why not talk to them anyway? Tell them what is happening in the world and how it makes you feel, tell them that you love them or talk about your memories of happy times. If you feel self-conscious talking to your pet, how about writing them a letter?

6. Volunteer

For older people and those in at-risk groups who’ve been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks, looking after their pets – especially dogs – may be a pressing concern. The Cinnamon Trust recently mentioned on their Facebook page that they are looking for emergency volunteers to help walk dogs or pick up food and medical supplies on behalf of pet carers who are in high-risk categories.

Is this something you could help with? Have you thought about volunteering as a way to keep animals in your life and do something positive during this tough time? Many rescues are desperate for fosterers right now. From dogs and cats to bird, rabbits and guinea pigs, there’s an animal looking for a safe space to call home, even temporarily.

7. Offer support too

It’s probably fair to say that even those people who haven’t suffered a bereavement are grieving at the moment. In some way, we all stand to lose aspects of our normal lives, although things will hopefully return to normal eventually.

In a strange twist of fate, those of us who were already grieving may be better placed to move through this surreal reality we find ourselves in. You will already have a deep understanding of how grief can make you feel; this means you can be instrumental in spreading much-needed kindness and empathy to those who are struggling.

And maybe too, other people will gain new insight into your pet loss grief too.

Maybe in their own grief for lost normality, they will recognise how the loss of a loved pet, a comforting presence and the routine that goes with caring for them, can cut so very deep.

Perhaps that could be one of the good things that comes from the coronavirus? More empathy, more patience, more support.

Whatever the future holds, we’ll remind you once again that you are not alone right now. Reach out to The Ralph Site. There is a whole community there for you.

Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support