And it’s OK not to be.
Losing a loved one is always devastating.
But whilst the sense of loss is universally intense, it is also uniquely experienced – no two people will feel the same way, just as the same person may feel different every time they experience loss.
It seems obvious to say, and yet so often society and well-meaning friends assume that we are following a predictable and understandable process of grieving. There is no ‘right’ way to react or feel following the loss of a much-loved pet, and it’s impossible to know how you will feel in advance. Preparing for an inevitable end is not necessarily easier than experiencing a sudden loss.
People may say to you: “it’s only a pet” or “but it’s been ages now”, as if there is an acceptable time to feel bad, and after that point you simply have to switch off and move on.
Others may secretly wonder why you don’t seem sad; how can you have moved on so quickly?
It’s important to keep in mind that everybody means well; they are either trying to help you move towards happier times, or preparing you for a delayed reaction. Take on board any comments that you find helpful, and simply disregard those that you don’t – try not to magnify your grief with anger or sadness directed towards others. Because grief, in all its forms, is a personal process.
You might find it comforting to keep a photograph or a memento of your pet with you at all times. On the other hand, perhaps you find this morbid or upsetting.
Both reactions are perfectly normal, and equally OK.
You might feel that you don’t want your pet’s ashes returning. Or you might wish to plan a trip to a favourite beach and scatter them over the dunes where he/she loved to run.
Either course of action (and of course anything and everything else in between) is just fine.
You might find it helpful to read the experiences of others who are going through the same emotions as you. The Ralph Site public Facebook page and private Facebook group offer a non-judgemental space to offer advice, ask for support or simply to share memories of a wonderful companion.
There are also lots of links to useful websites and organisations offering support through the grieving process on The Ralph Site. You might not be ready for them right now, and indeed you might not feel that you ever need them, but resources such as these are available for you to consult if, or when, you do.
Of course, there is no website or blog that can take away the pain of loss, but there is comfort to be found in the knowledge that you are not alone, that it’s OK to feel how you are feeling.
And it will ease:
Grief never ends,
But it changes.
It’s a passage,
Not a place to stay.
The sense of loss
Must give way
If we are to value
The life that was lived.
Grief is not a sign of weakness
Nor lack of faith
It is the price of love.
Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team.
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support
Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.