Pet loss counselling at Leone Centre honours the bond between humans and animals and is based on the knowledge that, when it comes to the bereavement of our beloved pets, grief is a natural response. Whilst we usually consider grief an inescapable part of life and living, the pain and impact of losing a pet can be often misunderstood and go unacknowledged. This can make the loss of a pet an overwhelming and very lonely experience; for some it can be an unexpected difficult time.
Pets are trusted and affectionate companions, a soulful and lively presence and have a unique personality and way of connecting. An important and loved part of your life and family, they can provide a sense of protection and unconditional acceptance. A mutual enrichment of lives and experience takes place in the human and animal relationship. It’s not surprising that the depth of the loss can be so significant and trigger deep emotional responses.
At Leone Centre, we know the deep bond between pet and owner and the value these relationships hold. Studies have proven that having a pets can bring health benefits, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure, communication and lessen conflict in families, and provide the essential value of touch.
It is true that though the noted connections and benefits of pet owner relationships, pet loss doesn’t often receive the same recognition as other types of loss despite the understanding around the impact that these relationships play. We challenge this narrative and recognise the disruption and devastation that can occur as a result of losing a pet.
The Grieving Process
Whilst it is natural to experience grief and loss having to say goodbye to a pet (whether the loss is through accident, illness, theft or any other means), we want to emphasise that there is no such a thing as a “normal” way to grieve. It is important to acknowledge the significance of the loss and to allow yourself to the time and space to grieve as this is a very natural process. Trying to deny, ignore or belittle difficult feelings in the short term can create difficulties in the long term.
On the same premise that relationships are unique and multidimensional, grief is too. The strength of the bond generally determines the depth of the grief. It is advisable to seek help if you feel overwhelmed with distress, which will not go away or if your reaction to your loss feels too difficult to manage. Losing a pet can trigger memories and feelings of past and/or future anticipated losses so it is important that you take care of your self and seek help if you feel overwhelmed. Talking to a trained professional can help you make sense of your loss and support you on your journey. At Leone Centre we specialise in pet bereavement, we acknowledge and honour the significance of the love and connection of the pet-owner bond.
Pet Loss – Euthanasia
The word euthanasia comes from the Greek words eu (meaning good) and thanatos (meaning death). Also known as being put down/put to sleep – this is not often an easy decision to make or even to think about. It is important to have the right professional support to know the facts to make an informed decision, which might appear clear and rational but can be accompanied by feelings of guilt, anger and self-doubt. In the same vein, it can be helpful to have professional support from a pet bereavement counsellor to help deal with the contradicting responses to find clarity and acceptance.
Pet Loss and Children
Though losing a pet can be devastating at any age, handling pet loss with children can bring up further implications for the family. Managing the loss sensitively and age-appropriately can be difficult. Loss of a pet can be distressing and confusing for children. If this is a child’s first experience of loss, the way in which they deal with the loss and navigate their grieving process can be a helpful experience in navigating the natural grieving process and loss later on in life. Our specially trained therapists are here to support you through these difficult times, questions and to navigate your grief in a way that works for you and your family.
It is important that you find a way that is right for you to honour your pet, say goodbye and in your own time accept the loss and integrate it into life going forward. In the same way, every relationship is different due to attachment, bond and closeness, conflict and the circumstances of loss – as well as cultural and societal norms and values – every grieving process will be unique to the individual. It is necessary and natural to go through mourning after pet loss and it is okay to ask for help should you feel stuck in your grief. A specially trained counsellor can be a helpful part of your process.
Get in touch with the team at Leone Centre for an initial consultation or more information