How to cope with the death of a pet.


First of all, I would like to state that I am aware of the title. It is “just a pet” that I will be spending the next 500 words rambling on about; it is not a human being and therefore the majority of people will question the purpose of this article. But since losing Smudge aka Smeagol, my beloved incontinent cat, all I have received is a callous pat on the back and confused stares as to why I’m even upset.

I do appreciate that such a degree of mourning over a pet is somewhat ludicrous. However, this was not just any pet; it was Smeagol, my childhood companion, who I grew up with and shared my inner most thoughts and my food (I was an unusual child). My point is that the news hit me hard. It was not like we could just bury her in the garden and pretend nothing had happened, like we had to do with the hamster mum accidentally stood on (true story).

When I received the phone call revealing the news, I experienced some of the conventional stages of bereavement. Denial by assuming it was all a sick joke, anger at the ******* who “euthanized” her and depression by hysterically weeping and harassing every stray cat I stumbled upon, all on an emotionally draining night out. For those of you animal lovers out there who have recently lost their furry friend, or who are as emotionally unstable as me, I can share from my experience helpful methods of coping with your loss.

1. Cry like a baby. Whether you want to do this or not, it will be inevitable. Everything you come across will remind you of said pet, as if strategically placed there by some sadistic force. Stop trying to be a tough nut and just allow the tears to flow, blame it on onions, shampoo in the eye, or even the Lancastrian wind.

2. Once it is all out of your system, use it to your advantage. Is this morally wrong? Perhaps. Did it help me? Definitely. It’s ridiculous the amount of times I used the “dead cat card” to get out of doing the dishes, to get free drinks at Spoons, and to eat the last muffin. As horrible as the situation may be, every cloud has its silver lining, and this is yours. Use it to your advantage. Allow yourself the time to relax; have naps, postpone the diet, and watch so much Breaking Bad you forget where you are. You’re allowed at least a week to be as lethargic and repellent as you want, without judgement from your fellow flatmates.

3. Last but not least, embrace the acceptance stage, as you cannot continue self-pitying forever. Make a proud mini memorial in your room for your four-legged friend with no fear of looking like a cat spinster, and appreciate the fact they are (hopefully) in “a better place”, with their other pet pals. Finally, just try to get on with your tedious daily chores without sobbing every time an O2 advert comes on.

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