Preparing for the Loss of a Pet: A Difficult Pill You Must Swallow
Contributing Writer: Low En Xing
As pet owners, the presence of our pet may be something that we unconsciously take for granted at times. Ten, twenty years seem like a long time, so we become convinced that our furry pal is going to be by our side for the rest of our lifetime; only when we realise that our pets are living their final days do we finally come to terms with this poignant reality.
Sadly, the death of our pets is inevitable, and hence we must learn how to prepare to say goodbye and aid them through their final moments in life, even though we may instinctively want to push this thought aside.
Bidding farewell during their final moments
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Unlike unfortunate cases where pets may pass away out of the blue, your vet may have informed you that they are experiencing their final moments in life. This is more likely for cases where your pet is suffering from a terminal illness with no known cure, or is dying due to old age.
As euthanasia is only approved on a case-by-case basis in Singapore, you may want to consider palliative care for your pet if you wish to have your pet enjoy their last few weeks before passing on. For those who cannot bear to watch their pet suffer from treatments and medications, palliative care allows you to relive your pet from pain through the use of pain-relieving medications, as well as nonpharmacologic methods such as physical therapy.
Riding out the emotional journey
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Losing your pet is akin to losing an important companion in life, so it is perfectly normal to experience grief leading up to their final days, as well as after bidding them goodbye. This pain and sense of loss can often feel very overwhelming, especially since most of us are likely to be losing our pet for the very first time. To help you cope with grief in a healthy manner, here are some tips that may be useful:
Acknowledge your feelings
The first step to getting over the death of your beloved pet is to acknowledge your feelings of sadness and grief. Rather than trying to ignore or push away these negative feelings, acknowledging them is important so that you can give yourself sufficient time and space to release these emotions in your own way. Each individual differs in the time necessary for them to properly grieve over their loss, and hence you should always allow yourself to grieve for as long as you need.
Some pet owners may also wish to reconnect with their furry pals through an animal communicator, who speaks to animals that have passed on with the help of a photograph of the animal.
Reach out to others
While it is important to give yourself time and space to grieve over your pet alone, seeking comfort from your family members and friends can also be part of the healing process. Having a trusted someone that you can confide in allows you to gain mental and emotional support, which may come in the form of a hug, or simply listening to you and validating your feelings.
Reaching out to others who have first-hand experience through online and offline means is also a good way for you to seek support and advice that have helped them to get over the loss of their pet too.
Source: Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash
As there are no burial services for pets in Singapore, your pet would have to be cremated. There are generally 3 different arrangements you can choose from. The most affordable arrangement, communal, would have your pet cremated with others. Unfortunately, their ashes will not be returned to you and would be either scattered into the sea or buried alongside others.
Individual arrangements are similar to communal, where your pet would also be cremated with others, but your pet’s ashes will be returned to you. If you prefer a more exclusive arrangement where you can also witness the process and bid your last goodbyes, you may want to consider opting for a private cremation.
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Every pet owner has their own way of seeking closure and getting over the loss of their pet. Scattering your pet’s ashes into the sea may be a good and liberating option for some, while holding on to their ashes by storing them in a special urn or even in a locket may serve as a reminder to hold onto the good memories.
Ultimately, letting go of your pet is never an easy process, but it is an inevitable part of life. As pet owners who are the world to our pets, we should honour and cherish the precious time we have with them by showering them with plenty of love and affection, and remember that moving on does not mean that you’re forgetting.