Hi, my name is Tracey, and I have been a psychologist since 2001, specialising in healthcare (mind-body medicine) and have had significant experience working with loss and grief, unresolved feelings, trauma, adjustment and well-being.
Life with a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as they become part of the family, we are their guardian, and they depend on us for their care. Life is bliss, and you look forward to coming home and seeing them. You can feel they are the only one that understands you and give you unconditional love. You may catch yourself talking about what your fur-baby is thinking or why they are doing something.
Coping with their loss is one of life’s major challenges and an inevitable part of their life. The pain your grief is causing is unique to you and a reflection of how much you loved your fur-baby. How old you are, your attachment to them, how old they were and how they passed can make a difference to your loss and grief experience.
It can be difficult to get grief support as others may not recognise the significance of your loss and trying to adjust to life without them.
Your experience can feel overwhelming and have unexpected emotions (e.g. from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, intense sadness), thoughts (e.g. overthinking, unable to decide on what to do) and behavioural and physical symptoms (e.g. crying easily, not being yourself and more reactive to others, difficulty sleeping).
For example, can you relate to some of these situations and comments:
Having to decide to put them to sleep.
“I am full of regret and guilt as I should have done more.”
“I don’t know what to do as I love them, but I don’t want them to suffer.”
They have been attacked, or in an accident you witnessed.
“I feel traumatized because I saw them get attacked and relive it regularly.”
Feeling no one understands your grief.
“I feel heartbroken and so lonely.”
“I miss them so much, and no one understands how I feel.”
“It has been years since I lost them but I still feel guilty about how they died.”
I ‘d like to help you understand your experience and develop ways to cope with your loss at this difficult time.
In addition to my professional training and experience, my own pet losses have given me personal experience with grief, unresolved feelings, trauma and having to adjust to my life without them. I had to put my 17 & 19-year-old cats to sleep because of their age and health, my 6-month-old puppy was hit by a car, I watched my 3 ½-year-old giant rabbit die unexpectedly during a vet visit, have had to rehome two young bunnies, and found my 4-year-old dwarf rabbit dead and not knowing why.
I also know how pets significantly improve our quality of life and well-being. I’m very fortunate to have Shadow, my 10-year-old exotic black cat from the SPCA. Shadow has a video message for you – attached.
Contact Tracey Gee
· Email: Tracey@healthworkz.co.nz
· Website: https://www.healthworkz.co.nz/pet-grief-and-loss
Keep safe and well.