How to Cope with The Death of a Pet

When someone you love passes away, it is very natural to feel sad, show grief and expect friends and family to give you the understanding and comfort that you need.

However, when it comes to the death of a pet, we don’t always get that understanding. Some people will simply not be able to comprehend how central a pet can be to someone’s life and may not understand why you are upset over “just a pet.”

Part of the family

What some people have a hard time grasping is that a pet can mean just as much to you and sometimes more than other people. We love our pets and consider them members of the family and often celebrate their birthdays or involve them in other family times like Christmas. So when a beloved pet passes away, it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed by a sense of loss.

The first step to coping with the loss of a pet is accepting the fact that they can mean the world to you; they provide companionship, emotional support and unconditional love. By acknowledging and accepting the bond between you, you’ve already taken the first step towards coping.

By finding a way to cope with the grief you are feeling you can turn the tears from memories into smiles of remembrance.


There is no one way to grieve, it is a very individual process. For some it will last days and for others it will be years. Generally, there is a process which tends to start with denial as this offers a sort of protection from the realisation of the loss.

Some people will feel anger, towards everyone and everything and others perhaps will feel guilt that they couldn’t save their pet. Others may completely shut down, as they feel it is inappropriate to have the feelings they do because it is, after all, “just a pet.”

Once these feelings pass, then an owner will probably experience the true sadness of grief. Some often become withdrawn and even depressed. Unfortunately, until acceptance of the loss is reached, the sadness will continue.

How to cope

As we have said, grief is a personal experience, but you need not deal with it alone. There are many forms of support available including counselling services, hotlines or local groups, books, magazine articles and many more.

Some ways to cope might be;

  • You must acknowledge your grief and allow yourself the opportunity to express it.
  • Don’t feel ashamed to reach out to others so you can share your grief. Look around online and you will find people going through the same thing that you can talk to.
  • Try writing down your feelings in either a journal or short story or whatever works for you.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet and a place you can go to remember them.

The most important thing of course is to be kind to yourself and accept that it is okay to feel loss, pain and hurt and that at some point in the future, the sadness will turn to fondness for the memories that you had.

If you need to talk, I am here and ready to listen.

What to Keep When Someone Passes

There is no defining the feeling of loss because it is different for each and every one of us. When someone passes it can affect us in small and what might be perceived as insignificant ways or in huge categoric waves of sorrow. Either way, it is life changing.

Then, as time passes and the months or even years go by, the time comes when you have to decide what to do with the life they have left behind. Most people who leave this earth will leave behind possessions be it a couple of boxes or an entire estate.

The question is; what do you keep? What do you get rid of? Is it okay to get rid of anything? It can be an incredibly daunting situation to be confronted with, especially during such an emotionally raw and difficult time.  Below are some thoughts which may help:

Bring A Little Help

Make sure you reach out and ask for some help from trusted friends or family members. Most people want to help when they know someone who has experienced grief or loss but simply don’t know how. Even if they simply sit next to you and listen or provide emotional support, this is not a task anyone should have to tackle alone.

Choose your time

There is no right or wrong time, it doesn’t have to be done immediately, it doesn’t all have to be done together, for example, you may want to keep some special items of clothing that remind you of happy or special occasions. There is often a lot to be done so take your own time. From my experience most people seem to know when it feels right for them.

Prepare Yourself

Before trying to make any specific decisions about the little things and what to keep and what not to, take a walkthrough of the space you need to organise or have a look through the boxes you’ll need to sort so you can get a sense of the size and scale of what you’ll need to do so it’s not a complete shock. You’ll also be able to think about any supplies you might need like boxes, markers, labels etc.

Make sure to set yourself some kind of time-frame and don’t work for too long. It’s likely that whilst there will be fond memories it will be very exhausting both physically and emotionally and now more than ever is a time for self-care.

Trust Your Instincts

At the end of the day it is as simple as that. There is no right or wrong answer on what you should keep and what you should not. Try and be realistic – do you have the space? Is what you want to keep going to cause you issues or be a hindrance? Would they have wanted you to keep this or would they have liked it to be passed on?

Choosing not to keep something is okay – you have so many options other than keeping it such as;

  • Passing on to another family member or friend
  • Giving to charity
  • Recycling
  • Selling and buying something to remember the departed by or having a party to celebrate their life.

More often than not, when faced with the items before you, you’ll know what you want to keep and what you know in your heart is okay for you to let go of. No one will judge you and no one will think anything of your decision.

Remember to focus on the things that matter and remember there is no obligation. Guilt will not help and at the end of the day it is your decision to make about what is meaningful and has a place with you.


Finding hope in difficult times

We live in a time where the current “trend” is positivity. It’s all about self-care, mindfulness and happiness which I completely support as it’s good for the soul. However, when you stop to look at the state of the world and the events that are happening, it’s not hard to understand why so many have a problem embracing positivity.

It seems that each and every day, there are more stories on the news of terrorist attacks, the planet which as a race we are killing more and more by the day and the latest kerfuffle that our governments are facing. What is also alarming, is the number of families falling below the poverty line and the number of homeless people dramatically rising. It’s enough to make anyone forget positivity.

However, these may be difficult times, but it’s important we look for the hope or as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell once said, just one happy thought.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” “So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!” J.M. Barrie

This may be part of a fairytale but J.M. Barrie had the right concept. So how do we stay positive and find that spark of hope we sometimes need to get us through the day?

  • Gratitude – Start a gratitude journal or jar. Each day, for a year, write down one thing you’re grateful for. It could be the money for a takeaway, it could simply be the hug from your little one. Look for the positive and you’ll find it.
  • Listen – Listen to some upbeat, happy tunes. Music has a great power within it, so use it to help fill your mind and body with happiness and soul. Perhaps you could even have a little dance!
  • Smile – It’s so simple. Just smile. Smiling can be so infectious…smile and the world will smile with you.
  • Passion – None of us know how long we have on this earth, so don’t waste a second. Do something you’re passionate about and live each moment to the fullest. This doesn’t have to be as your work but perhaps a hobby such as walking or painting.

If you look for it there is always hope to be found. If you’re struggling then please do reach out and find someone to talk to be it the Samaritans, your doctor or myself. There will always be someone there to listen and of course try and help you find the positive.

Feeling bad about feeling good

When we experience deep sorrow for whatever reason, one of the hardest things that follows can be feeling good once again.  A moment of happiness can fill us with remorse, guilt and all sorts of other things – isn’t it ironic that a feeling of happiness can make us feel so bad.

It is incredibly hard when you have experienced great sadness or loss to trust that things may finally be looking up. However, when things do start to finally head on the right path, the guilt we experience can often set us back.

Why do we feel this way? Perhaps because a feeling of happiness or even just feeling okay can make us feel like we’re okay with what has happened and that we’re ready to move on, which of course we might not be ready to do. It feels simply wrong.

What you should remember is that this is all perfectly normal and whilst it might feel like you’re the only one experiencing these feelings, you’re really not alone. Mistakenly, people think that their grief needs to end and be complete before they can once again be free to enjoy happiness and good things.

Coping with the feelings that come with grief is a complicated matter.  Someone asking, ‘how are you?’ can be very innocent on their part but open such a complex can of worms for you. You may not want to admit you’re struggling but find it equally difficult to answer that you’re okay, meaning there is no actual answer you can give.

What we need to understand is that we don’t just feel one emotion at any given time. According to Google we can have anywhere between 50,000-80,000 thoughts per day and our emotions, which are very closely tied to our thoughts, also tend to change with them.

The whole “If I am happy then I can’t be sad anymore” logic simply isn’t true. Not all 80,000 thoughts we experience in a day are going to be happy or all sad. There will be a mix of everything depending on where we are, what we are doing and what we are experiencing.

If you have recently experienced a loss, don’t be afraid to smile or even laugh. A moment of happiness should be a welcome moment of respite from the overwhelmingness that can be grief. Equally, if you’re at a good time in your life when everything is going well, don’t feel bad if you feel a little down. We can’t be happy, sunshine people all the time.

We will never eradicate the feeling of guilt for feeling happy when we are in fact sad, but know that it’s okay and you aren’t alone.

How To Help Those That Are Grieving

One of the worst experiences we are faced with in life is loss and bereavement. Some people will be fortunate to have never experienced any kind of grief and unfortunately others are all too familiar with the feelings of loss and bereavement.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines grief as “intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” This is as good a description as any, though I’m unsure any words can truly describe the feelings of grief.

We all deal with it in our own ways whether it be to talk about it or to hide away from the world until we’re forced back into society. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief though there are perhaps methods that are better in some respects. The trouble comes when you are not the person experiencing the grief but the one trying to support the bereaved through their loss.

What should you say? What should you do? Will anything you say or do actually be what they need? All one can do is try.

Here are a few ideas on how to help:

  • Never avoid someone who has been bereaved. It’s confusing and hurtful. Texts, emails and letters are all acceptable – it’s the contact that matters. Grief can make you feel scared and alone. Saying “I’m sorry” is enough if you can’t think of anything else.
  • Never tell someone how they’re feeling, because grief is incredibly individual. Just be there to support them.
  • Don’t stop someone crying. Even saying “don’t cry”, meant helpfully, can seem as if you are shutting them down. It’s OK to be silent while someone sobs, just give them a reassuring, gentle touch to let them know you are there.
  • Save the flowers for three months after the bereavement, when everyone else has fallen away and it seems everyone has forgotten. The bereaved person will still be grieving. It’s getting back to ordinary life that can hurt the most.
  • Don’t be afraid to mention the person who has died. Often people will avoid mentioning them or their name because they don’t know what to say or feel awkward, however this can often be more painful than a stroll down memory lane to remember the good and happy times.

Let the grieving person guide you. If you are there to be a support, allow their grief to guide you along the correct path of comfort.

If you need any help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Grief and its Power

There’s no escaping it. When grief arrives in our lives in its various forms there is no hiding from it, though some may try. At its worst it can be all consuming and feel as if we will never escape from it and for others, it can make them feel empty and a shell of their former selves.

There are many definitions of grief as the word can encompass so many things. Whatever the situation, grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. It can also be the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change of something familiar.

Obviously, the most common cause of grief is the loss of a loved one. The primary emotion caused during this time is tremendous sadness as well as sometimes relief that perhaps a long-suffering family member is no longer in pain or perhaps anger that someone was taken too soon.

Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Some will welcome help and comfort and some will shy away from it. But, how do you begin to even cope with grief?


One of the first and most difficult things that must happen is the acknowledgement and acceptance of the feelings that you have. Many people will try and avoid them because they don’t feel comfortable with them, but this can lead to further psychological problems later on. You need to find a safe place be that alone or with someone, find what works for you, sit down and acknowledge how you are feeling.


It may sound like a cliché but talking does help. It will either provide an outlet for the feelings that you have or remind you that just because someone has passed it doesn’t mean they cannot live on through their memories. Find someone you trust or perhaps an outsider you feel comfortable with like a counsellor or support group and push yourself to go. Struggling to cope alone is never the best option but find what works for you, the best tools to help you deal with the emotions that come hand in hand with grief. Don’t push people away – take some space for yourself but don’t sit alone forever.


Give yourself time. There is no set time for grieving. It is different for each person. You will perhaps try and fill the space or void that you are feeling but unless you have accepted the feelings of grief, it will be impossible to fill as it once was. Techniques such as practising mindfulness may help as they teach you how to focus on the positive thoughts you have and pop the negative ones like bubbles floating on a breeze. The most important thing to do is move forward but at a pace you’re happy with and before too long, you’ll start to feel the sunshine on your face once more.

If you’re suffering through grief and loss and would like someone to talk to, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk and help you through the difficult time you are having.