No two people grieve alike, even within the same family. Many families find it helpful to share their feelings of grief with each other and seek ways to memorialize their pet. Creating a scrapbook, holding a memorial ceremony, or even planting a tree in honor of a beloved companion animal may help bring a sense of closure.
It is important for your children to see and experience your grieving process. Being truthful with your children will also aid in their healing. If your pet is going to be euthanized, avoid using phrases like “put to sleep,” “is very sick,” or “is going away.” These can be difficult concepts for children to understand. “We are helping Fluffy to die because we love her very much and do not want her to suffer” is a more truthful and less ambiguous statement. Make your pet’s death more meaningful by asking your children how they would like to memorialize their animal friend. Feel free to call us for additional ideas on memorializing your companion animal.
For more information visit the article Children and Pet Loss from In the Perspectives July/August, 1994. It is an insightful article written by Laurel Lagoni, M.S. and Carolyn Butler, M.S.
The death of a companion animal may affect the other pets in the household. Pets may grieve by withdrawing from the family, not eating, crying out in the night and wondering about the home. These are all normal reactions to grief, however if such behavior continues for an extended period of time the animal should have a phyical checkup.
For more information regarding pets grief view Other Pets May Suffer Over the Loss, an excerpt from the book When Your Pet Dies by Christine Adame.
People with Disabilities and Senior Citizens
Dealing with a service animal’s death can be particularly difficult for people with disabilities. Service animals perform many valuable functions for their owners, as well as providing companionship. The grieving process may not be complete until after a new service animal is acquired, thus making it more difficult to bond with the new animal.
Animal companionship can improve health and provide a sense of order and routine for older people. Senior citizens who live alone and who have lost many friends and family can be especially saddened by the loss of their companion animals.