Losing a pet is very difficult time, and owners can often feel like there is not enough support.
Research by pet insurance providers Animalfriends.co.uk, suggests one in ten brits seek counselling or take anti-depressants to help them cope. Over half of owners described the grief of losing an animal is the same, or greater than losing a relative.
Research also found one in five owners are prepared to pay for a proper pet funeral, while one in three Brits choose to bury them in their back garden. Over half of owners still go on to find a new furry family member. A surprising 40 percent of owners believe that they have been or will certainly be visited by the spirit of their dead cat or dog.
Dr Thomas Fletcher, senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University’s School of Events, Tourism Hospitality and Languages, says, “We humanise our pets – they are not just animals but become actual members of our family.
“Particularly for elderly people the animal is the one they invest so much of their time and energy into. For that person in particular, an animal’s loss is felt more keenly than that of a human.
“Because pets are entirely dependent on us, those who are lonely invest even more of their time because they are reliant on us for everything. They become literally our entire world.”
Dr Helen Brooks, a research fellow in mental health at the University of Manchester, says “For people with mental health difficulties pets are often their only source of support. They provide emotional support which is consistent and which they can rely on. Pets accept people for who they are and are always there.”
Keeping mementoes of lost pets is very common and over two thirds of animal lovers treasure their passed pet’s pictures. It’s women, however, who are the most sentimental when it comes to keeping mementoes of their pet, with 35 percent choosing to cling to the collar, compared to just 29 percent of men.
Westley Pearson, Managing Director of Animalfriends.co.uk, said, “It can be very distressing when you lose a pet, as many people have them for years and consider them a member of the family. If a death is inevitable, you can prepare young children for the event, by explaining to them that their pet is poorly.
“It’s a nice idea to keep little things to remind you of your pet – like photos or videos – so you have those memories forever. When getting a new furry friend, it is always a good idea to get pet insurance which will cover you in the event of an injury or accident.”