The bond you form with your pet is unique – no one can quite understand them like you can, which is why losing them can be difficult and upsetting. If you are reading this shortly after losing your furry companion, know that we understand just how personal the bond between you and your pet is.
Dealing with the grief
It can be made harder losing a rabbit, guinea pig or hamster, as often people can understand the feelings of loss when a dog or a cat dies more than if a smaller animal dies. We understand how hard it can be to lose any pet, no matter their size.
In the difficult time when you lose your companion, it can be hard to know how to feel, and allowing yourself to acknowledge what has happened is important. We all deal with grief in different ways, and you should allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you are currently feeling. Everyone reacts to loss in different ways, and when something sad happens, it can often be hard to process it at the time.
If you feel like you are struggling to deal with your pet’s death, reaching out to those around you – such as family and friends – can really help. There are also ways you can remember your pet – whether that is burying them somewhere special, or keeping photos and memories of them close to you.
Making the difficult decision
There are times where our pets die because we have made the decision to end their suffering. This is never an easy decision for anyone to make, and by speaking to your vet they will be able to guide you through that challenging process.
Whether your pet’s death was sudden or expected, it doesn’t make the decision to end your companion’s suffering any easier. You know your animal better than anyone else, and so you are often the first to recognise when they are suffering.
It can be hard not to think of the ‘what if’s when making such difficult decisions, but it often isn’t helpful in coming to terms with the loss. Discussing your thoughts and feelings with your vet can help with this process.
How to help your other pets
Rabbits and guinea pigs form a strong bond with their companions, so the loss of a partner can be a traumatic experience for them. If you are currently processing the loss of your rabbit or guinea pig who lived with a companion, it is important to also consider how their partner might be feeling.
Rabbits especially can grieve just like humans can – and they can often appear quieter than normal during that time. They – just like us – have to come to terms with the loss of a friend. If you are able to do so, allowing them time with the body of their companion can help them grieve. If this isn’t possible, then paying extra attention to your rabbit’s behaviour and spending time with them might help them adjust to the loss.
Many highly sociable animals, such as rabbits, are not happy to live alone and you may want to consider introducing a new friend before you are really ready emotionally. Try not to feel guilty about ‘replacing’ a pet quickly and try to remember that you are putting your current pet’s wellbeing first.
The introductory process can be quite slow and taking your time gives everyone longer to adjust. We have some tips here.
Many people have difficulty with “moving on,” as they think it means that they have overcome the loss of their pet – but this is not the case at all. There are many ways you can still feel close to your pet and remember them, while also moving forward in life.
In time after losing a loved one, the grief becomes more manageable instead of disappearing completely. If you are struggling to come to terms with the loss of your pet, there are other people out there who will understand, so do seek help when you need it.
- Animal Samaritans Pet Bereavement Service:
0203 745 9859
- The Ralph Site