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Coping with the Loss of a Pet

Coping with the Loss of a Pet

The second Tuesday in June marks a day that may be very difficult for some; World Pet Memorial Day. We know that days like today can bring up a lot of feelings for anyone who has lost or is preparing to lose a pet and so we wanted to provide a place full of information, help and ideas to honour your beloved pet. We will be sharing ways that you can celebrate and remember the lives of your pets that have passed away, as well as details on some incredible pet bereavement services. We will also be sharing some information on ways that you may choose to lay your pet to rest, including burials or cremation. It is important to remember that the loss of a pet impacts everyone differently; there is no right or wrong way to feel. However, feelings of sadness, loneliness and even depression can be overwhelming when you lose your companion. These feelings are completely normal, and are a testimony to the special bond between people and their pets. Often it can feel that friends, family members or colleagues don’t quite understand how difficult losing a pet can be and grieving for a pet can often be a lonely experience. But you are not alone, there are many people who have been through the same heartbreak that can offer help and guidance during these difficult times. 

If you need someone to talk to, there are a number of services available to you. Whether you recently lost a pet, are preparing for your pet's departure or lost a companion animal years ago, these services are all here to help. The animal charity Blue Cross offers a Pet Bereavement Support Service for anyone who needs it. They are able to offer emotional support, confidential advice and a sympathetic ear every day from 8:30am to 8:30pm, simply give them a call on 0800 096 6606. Sometimes it can be easier to write your feelings down. If you would prefer to talk to someone via email you can email them at pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk and they will get back to you within 48 hours. For more information, you can visit their website. (https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss

Cats Protection also offer a confidential phone line called Paws to Listen which provides help to anyone suffering grief or bereavement of a beloved cat. Call them on 0800 024 94 94, the line is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. To read more about the phone line and to access other resources provided by Cats Protection, visit their website. 

(https://www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/grief/advice) The British Horse Society offers support to horse owners faced with the loss of their companion. The Friends at the End phone line is available at 02476 840517 or alternatively you can get in touch via email at friendsattheend@bhs.org.uk. You can read more about the service via the BHS website. (https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-work/welfare/our-campaigns/friends-at-the-end

For further advice or guidance, the book ‘Parting Words/Parting Ways: Saying Goodbye to Your Pet’ by Laura Ritter Carlson offers sensitive, sensible advice for anyone coping with the loss of a pet. From her many years of experience in pet-loss counseling, pet-assisted therapy, pet behavior counseling, and animal rescue, award-winning newspaper reporter and columnist Laura Carlson offers creative, comforting methods for coping with the loss of animal companions, as well as imaginative ways to honor and memorialise them in this book. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to animal welfare charities, the book is available widely online, or ask your local bookshop.

If you are looking for ways to remember and celebrate the life of your pet this World Pet Memorial day, we have thought of a few ways that you can do so. 

  • Firstly, you could create a photo album to memorialise your pet. You could use physical photos in an album and customise each page depending on the memory you have of the photograph. You could also get a photo album printed using an online service, simply upload your photos to a website and you will get a beautiful photo album to cherish. You could even upload your photos to an album on a social media account so that friends and family can also remember your pet and leave comments with any special memories they may have. 
  • Similarly, you could commision an artist to create a memorial portrait of your late pet from your favourite photograph of them. We highly recommend Mogsmugs on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Mogsmugs) who not only offer prints of your pet but also mugs, cushions and phone cases with your pets likeness on them, which can be incredibly comforting to see throughout your home. 
  • If you have an outdoor space, you could create a memorial garden in honor of your pet. Memorial gardens can be as big or small as you like. You can plant flowers, plants or trees in your garden and even decorate with objects that remind you or your pet. You could include a plaque, sign or stone to mark the garden too. If you don’t have an outdoor space, you could consider looking into planting a tree in your pets honor in a local park. 
  • You could donate to a charity or volunteer with them in your pet’s name. There are many local animal charities and rescue groups that would love to honor your pet by helping other animals in need. This may be particularly meaningful if there was a specific charity involved in your pets life, for example if they were adopted from a shelter etc.  

 

When your pet does pass away, thinking about what to do with their body can be incredibly difficult. If it is possible to think about these decisions in advance, you may find it a little easier when the time comes. Generally after passing away, pets can be cremated or buried, depending on your local area. Your vet will be able to provide you with this information. There are 2 types of cremation to choose from; communal cremation and individual cremation. Communal cremation is where several animals are cremated together, meaning you cannot have your pets ashes returned to you. Usually the ashes from communal cremations are scattered within the crematorium grounds, giving you a place to visit your pet. Individual cremations are more personal but also more expensive. In an individual cremation you will usually have the option of having your pets ashes returned to you. Your vet will be able to provide you with information on their preferred cremation services, however you are able to choose which business you use to cremate your pet. Many crematoriums allow pet owners on site for the cremation service so that you are able to say goodbye. You will also usually be able to choose the type of container to have the ashes kept in, should you be taking them home, make sure to ask the facility you're using what their options are. You may choose to have a home burial for your pet in your own garden. There is no formal planning required for burying a pet at home as long as you own the land and the vet has said there is no risk to other animals or people. If in doubt, contact your local authority. Home burials can be incredibly personal and comforting to some as you will always be able to visit your pet. However, it is important to consider factors such as if you were to move house and how this may make you feel. Another option for burial is pet cemeteries. This can be an expensive service, however it is often very personal. Most cemeteries will help plan a service for your pet before laying them to rest. Some cemeteries also have license to conduct human cremations and burials, meaning you and your pet may be laid together after death. When looking for a pet cemetery or crematoria, you may wish to search for members of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria. Members of the association adhere to a strict code of practice, meaning you can rest assured that you are receiving a genuine service, for example, ensuring your pet receives an individual cremation if that is what you have asked for. For member cemeteries and crematoria across Britain, call: 01252 844478 or visit their website.

If you are local to our Margate shop, we can recommend both a local crematorium and cemetery. Treasured Friends are a small family run pet crematorium in Thanet that provide a highly personal and sensitive service, always putting your pet first. Their pet cremation service is designed to be responsive, dignified and handled in the personal and caring way that you would expect. They will arrange immediate collection of your pet from either your home or veterinary practice, depending on your preference. Your pet will then be taken directly to Treasured Friend’s purpose built crematorium which is set within beautiful gardens in the picturesque village of Manston. Your pet’s ashes will be returned to you within 48 hours of the cremation direct to your door, or you may choose to have the ashes scattered or interred at their pet cemetery. Alternatively, you may wish to bring your pet to the crematorium yourself where you can attend the service and use their onsite facilities. You can get in touch with the Treasured Friends team via 01843 808288 or email them at enquiries@treasured-friends.co.uk and find more information on their website. Also local to Thanet is the Thanet Animal Cemetery who provide beautiful resting grounds for your beloved pet in a peaceful setting. You can choose to mark your pet's grave with a headstone or memorial of your choice. Thanet Animal Cemetery will help you to arrange a dignified service when you lay your pet to rest. The cemetery is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call them on 01227 647 001 to discuss your options or visit their website. 

We hope that anyone experiencing pet loss can find some solace today in celebrating the life and memory of your wonderful pet, however you may choose to do so. We know that losing your pet can be one of the hardest things to experience and if you are struggling, we strongly encourage you to contact one of the bereavement services we mentioned in this post. For those of you preparing to say goodbye to a pet, we offer our sincerest condolences and hope that some of the information we provided may be helpful to you as you make your plans.

We would like to leave you with a poem entitled ‘I Loved You Best’ by Jim Willis;

So this is where we part, My Friend,
and you'll run on, around the bend,
gone from sight, but not from mind, 
new pleasures there you'll surely find.
 
I will go on, I'll find the strength, 
life measures quality, not its length.
One long embrace before you leave,
share one last look, before I grieve. 
 
There are others, that much is true,
but they be they, and they aren't you. 
And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought, 
will remember well all you've taught. 
 
Your place I'll hold, you will be missed,
the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed. 
And as you journey to your final rest, 
take with you this... I loved you best.
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