Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: the loss of a pet

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In our part of the site where we chat about mental health and general wellbeing, a few words on losing a pet, and trying to cope.

Hello and a very warm welcome to Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters, our little bit of the Film Stories site where we talk about mental health and wellbeing. If you’ve not read one of these pieces before, it’s a place where we write about things that may be affecting you, us, or people around us.

We work on simple rules: not every article we run is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully across this series, there’s something that’s of use to you. And also, comments are very welcome, and appreciated.

This week, we want to chat about pets. More specifically, the loss of one.

It strikes me that there’s a dividing line when someone loses a pet, and it doesn’t feel like a blurry one. There are those who get it, and those who don’t.

For those who don’t, it can sometimes come across – certainly from comments I’ve had in the past – as much ado about nothing. The idea that an animal passing can consume you with so much grief, to the point where you feel unable to do much. We’re often told that it’s not the same as a person passing, as if there’s a strict measurement of loss and how you feel about it that should be applied.

For those who do get it, you know full well how hard it can hit you. Pets are companions. Pets are friends. Pets are little critters that can make getting through life that much better, and that much more doable. Pets are parts of families. And much loved parts of families too.

Each person, of course, reacts to loss differently, and there’s very much no right or wrong answer or approach. In the midst of any grief, I’d always suggest that self-care is both vital and really difficult. That you have to give yourself time and space, and allow yourself to grieve and be upset. Lots of people may suggest getting another pet, and that may well be something you want to pursue, but do it on your terms. There’s no shortage of animals out there needing and wanting love and good homes.

Lots of vets, even though they charge through the earth in many cases, will also cremate your pet for you, so you can have some kind of farewell. That may or may not help you when it comes to getting some kind of, for want of a better word, closure. But again: make sure whatever you do is right for you.

If you’re going through this at the moment, sending hugs. Your feelings, as you hopefully know, are absolutely 100% valid, no matter what anyone else may imply. You take care.

Blue Cross has a pet bereavement support service, that you can find here.

You all take care and look after yourselves. This column will return next Wednesday.

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