Those of us who have shared even a small part of our lives with a much-loved animal friend will carry the experience with us forever. And yet just as we find joy in the memories of happy times shared together, the pain of saying goodbye and the gaping hole left behind are also indelibly stamped on our hearts.
Sometimes the visceral pull of grief feels almost too much to bear. And whilst there is no magic button to press to make everything feel better, each of us is stronger than we know. Endurance and fortitude are uniquely human traits, helping us overcome the pain and sorrow whilst always retaining the sense of loss that reminds us of the depth of connection we enjoyed with our lost friend.
At times like these it is always helpful to speak with someone who really understands what you are going through, who has a small sense of what you’re feeling. You may have sympathetic friends or family who have lost their own pets, and talking over how you feel with them will provide some small comfort. However, if you feel there is nobody you can share your thoughts and feelings with, we have put together a list of experienced Pet Bereavement Counsellors from across the UK who may be able to help you work through the grieving process. (Please note that whilst we provide details for your convenience, we are unable to directly endorse or recommend these individual services, and you may also wish to research other alternatives to suit your own preferences and requirements.)
In addition, there is also plenty of support and advice to be found in the Counselling Directory, the UK’s largest database of registered professional counsellors. Here you’ll find answers to any questions you may have about how counselling works, and which type of approach might be best for you if you do decide to seek professional help. You can also search for pet bereavement counsellors near you.
The Blue Cross provides an excellent free resource, the Pet Bereavement Support Service. Its support line can be accessed free from landlines (some mobile networks may charge) in the UK and Northern Ireland on 0800 096 6606, and is open from 8.30am – 8.30pm everyday. More details can be found here.
You might also like to join The Ralph Site’s private Facebook support group, where you can discuss how you feel about your pet’s passing in a confidential and safe environment. Membership of this private group is by invitation only; however all you need to do is click on the link here and leave a request to join.
Please don’t ever feel that you should be able to cope on your own; there is no need to suffer in silence. Each of us needs someone to share our thoughts and feelings with sometimes, and without acknowledging and expressing the pain we feel we may simply be storing up future problems. Time after time we hear that what helps people dealing with pet loss grief the most is being able to share their feelings with and get support from other people.
According to recent statistics from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as many as 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of diagnosable mental distress during their lifetime, with 20% of people becoming depressed. And we all know that bereavement is widely acknowledged to be one of the most traumatic experiences to go through. Well-meaning friends may tell you that “it’s only a dog” and encourage you to get another one – not everyone understands the deep bond that we form with our pets. You will know when, indeed if, the time is right to bring another animal into your life, and it will never be to replace an old friend, rather to make a new one.
Until next time, 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.