Ahead of National Grief Awareness Week 2019, (2 to 9 December), a survey by pet website Wamizhas revealed nearly nine in ten Brits (89 percent) feel the death of a cat or dog is just as difficult to handle as the passing of a loved one, when it comes to grieving and sense of loss.
Taking this – and other statistics relating to pet loss from its survey – into account, Wamiz stresses that we need to find ways to encourage pet owners to talk about their grief, to assist mental well-being and tackle possible depression following a loss. Here’s why.
44 percent of the pet owners surveyed by Wamiz said they still find it extremely difficult to talk about a former pet’s death, whilst another 32 percent still find it a little difficult. This is despite the fact that 65 percent of those surveyed lost their dog or cat more than a year ago.
70 percent of those who have suffered a loss of a pet also say they find it more difficult to talk about their sense of loss with non-pet owners.
Interestingly, half of pet owners (50 percent) feel employers should allow them time off work to grieve, following the loss of a pet.
A desire to not let go and have a beloved former pet near at hand also shone through Wamiz’s survey. 84 percent of owners keep a pet’s ashes at home, whilst 62 percent have buried their pet in their garden.
More than eight-in-ten (85 percent) owners also keep a tangible keepsake of their former pet at home, be that a photo, piece of fur, collar, bowl or toy.
And 88 percent of owners stayed with their pet to the very end of their life, whilst nearly 9 percent could not do that, as it would have been too upsetting and emotional. Over a third of pet owners (38 percent) say they would have liked a funeral or ceremony for their lost pet.
Wamiz’s UK Country Manager, Emilie Heyl, says: “Brits clearly bring their dogs and cats into the family fold and have as deep an emotional attachment to them, as they have to other members of the family or to friends. Whilst, in the past, the sense of loss following the passing of a pet may have gone unappreciated or ignored, at a time when mental health campaigners are urging us to talk through our emotions or listen to others who are suffering mental health issues, it is vital that grieving pet owners can express their feelings.
“Other studies have shown that 62 percent of owners say having a pet makes them feel happier and that 68 percent of older people feel better both mentally and physically when they live with a dog or cat. If the companions that support happiness and well-being are suddenly no longer around, the negative impacts of loss could be significant.”
The coping mechanism of almost half of pet owners (49 percent) is to get another dog or cat within six months of a pet’s passing. Another reaction of 42 percent of pet owners is to share their grief in a written tribute to their pet on social media or in a blog.