Pet bereavement and tributes

Losing a much-loved pet is among the saddest experiences we go through.  For many of us our pets are fully-fledged members of our families, and whether they are old and at the end of a happy life, or younger and lost unexpectedly through illness or accident, there are a number of emotions to work through.

Sharing our lives with pets brings us great joy, companionship and fun.

Grief at a pet bereavement affects us all differently.  For some people there is comfort to be found in making a permanent tribute to their pet, perhaps putting together a scrapbook or photo album, planting a tree or a bush in the garden, or creating an online memorial.

Lost & Fond is a website that launched in 2010 to provide a warm and welcoming place for people to share their memories of the pets they have loved and lost down the years.

Its creator, Elaine Pritchard, knows at first hand the pain of losing a pet.

She said: “When I was a girl we had a Jack Russell terrier called Jacky who I adored. He had been around long before me and I remember, as he got older, the fear I had of losing him.  I can still remember the pain when he finally died at the age of 16. Like many children it was also my first personal experience of death.”

That was why Elaine was keen to include on Lost & Fond articles to help families support children through pet bereavements.

She said: “Adults can sometimes put off talking to a child about the loss of a pet because they are themselves scared of breaking down in front of the child and showing their own sadness, but involving children in the loss of a pet is a very gentle introduction to the fact that death is an inevitable part of life.

“Losing a loved family pet is bound to be distressing, but the opportunity to grieve together as a family is a healing experience.”

There is also practical help on the website about finding pet cemeteries and crematoria as well as articles about all the issues surrounding pet bereavement.

But Elaine stressed: “Lost & Fond aims to become a community for pet lovers and we are keen to hear the experiences of visitors to our site which could be a huge comfort to others, either through our forum or by adding comments to our articles and features.”

One of the key aspects of Lost & Fond is that visitors can quickly and easily create a tribute online adding words, pictures and virtual gifts. They can then log on securely any time to change it or add more memories and images.

Elaine said: “I was keen not to put obstacles in people’s way so creating a tribute is free. We do suggest that if you can afford it you might like to make an optional donation, in memory of your pet, to our nominated pet charity of the year which is currently Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.”

Once you have registered on the website you can also nominate the pet charity you would like to benefit from these optional donations in the future.

Feedback to the site has been positive, said Elaine, with owners telling her that creating tributes and sharing their memories has helped them in the grieving process.

Lifestyle

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