The last time I cried was last year, after getting the call from Mum to tell me that our beloved Blue Heeler, Chelsea, had been put down. I’ve only cried on a handful of occasions in recent memory, including watching Toy Story 3 and the finale of Breaking Bad, among other, more vulnerable moments. Obviously, this was one of those vulnerable moments. Chelsea had been our fifth family member since we got her for Dad’s birthday in 2003. She was known as the friendliest, most relaxed dog you’d ever meet. So to get a call from my sobbing mother to tell me that we’d lost her was rough.
I’m sure most of you have been through the experience of losing a beloved pet, but some can’t sympathise. Some will never fully understand why you feel the way you do. That’s okay. That doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by the loss of your pet. Losing a pet is hard. Whether they’re a bedside buddy or a tradie’s offsider, they’re a part of your life that’s hard to replace.
It’s almost impossible to explain to those that haven’t experienced loss before. You might feel embarrassed by your emotional state, but you shouldn’t. People who have never had a pet can never really know the love and companionship that they provide, and how much you’ll miss that. Pets aren’t just animals; they’re members of the family.
Non-pet people might make you feel silly for your feelings like it isn’t reasonable to feel the loss of a pet so strongly. You might be told to ‘get over it’ or be given daggers for daring to take that day off work to breath and remember the good times. It’s important not to let that get in your head. It’s important to work through your feelings at your own pace and seek the support you need. Your pet was a part of the family and those feelings are very real.
For me, losing Chelsea never really sank in. That is until the next bi-monthly trip back to my hometown. There was no Blue Heeler barking excitedly from the trampoline when I got out of my car, and there probably never will be again. But that’s ok. Chelsea’s in a better place, and with the help of my fellow dog-loving family and friends, I came to realise that much quicker. If you’re going through the loss of a pet, don’t be afraid to let the people around you know. If you’re not a pet person and someone around you is mourning the loss of their pet, try to empathise. They might be feeling rougher than you think, and your compassion could make the difference.