Pets are part of the family, and when they pass away the grief can be just as raw as losing any other family member. Here, Pet Bereavement Support Volunteer Tessa explains how her journey through pet loss led her to give back to others in need…
I thought it could never happen to me, this kind of grief. All my life I have worked with animals - loving and losing them: helping to ease them through their pain. The day came when I could no longer keep my two beloved birds and had to make a tough decision to have them put to sleep. As pet owners we are totally responsible for the welfare of our beautiful animals, including their passing.
It was tough but I knew it was best for them. When the day came, I was surprised that there were no tears. Later I realised that I was in the first stage of grief: deep, painless shock. The days that followed seemed to merge together.
A call for help
I am not a lonely person but felt isolated from life in general. My vet gave me a list of helplines.
The first and only number I phoned was Blue Cross’s Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS). At last someone who actually gave validation to my grief for two pets whose love had enriched my life beyond measure. There was no one else with whom I could share the terrible emotional pain I was in: no one but the kind voice on the line to whom I could talk freely without fear of dismissal.
Later, after a few weeks of sharing my grief with kind volunteers on the helpline, I started writing to the service’s email line and received wonderful support from a dedicated volunteer who explained to me the stages of my grief and the reasons for my pain. I cannot speak highly enough of her support.