Pets are treasured members of the family. Whether the main companion to someone who lives alone, or a four-legged member of a big family, our pets are important. They are sensitive to our moods, make us laugh with their antics, they get us out for fresh air, and they are an endless source of physical and emotional affection. Its no wonder that when they die they leave a huge hole in our lives and in our hearts.
The death of a pet can be devastating. Studies have shown that the grief we experience when a pet dies can be as intense as the loss of an important human relationship. Yet many grieving pet owners experience what we call ‘disenfranchised grief’: grief that isn’t validated by society or those closest to us. It makes us feel isolated at a time we are most in need of connection and support.
Knowing what a difficult time this can be and seeing it first-hand with our clients, we saw the need for more specific resources to support people experiencing this particular kind of loss. We are pleased to have two new resources about Pet Loss, both published this year by Hospice Yukon.
The first is an easy-to-read pamphlet called “When Your Pet Dies”. It offers a simple explanation the grief process, information about pet loss specifically and ideas of how to support yourself and others in this situation, including children and surviving pets.
The second is our newsletter on Pet Loss that came out this past spring. It contains some beautiful articles written by local pet owners on some of the specific things they did to mourn and honour the lives of their beloved animals. There’s also a helpful article by a local veterinarian about how and when to make the difficult decision to euthanize a pet.
Both of these resources are available at Hospice Yukon, and have also been distributed to Alpine Vet, All Paws, C and D Feeds, Duffy’s Pets, and The Feed Store in Whitehorse. The pet loss newsletter is also available online through our website.
Hospice also carries Feelie Hearts to honour pet loss. Some contain dog fur, others are sewn part way, leaving an opening for a pet owner to include the fur or hair of their own beloved animal companion. These can be a thoughtful offering to someone who has recently lost pet or is anticipating the death of a pet.