Grief after the death of any animal companion is really tough, and it can feel difficult to talk about it, but this is especially so with rabbits.
That’s because so many people just don’t understand how much a part of your life they are and how much love and affection you can have for them. In addition, sadly, there is an overwhelming perception that mourning the loss of any pet is not truly valid, maybe because they are not human, and that really needs to change!” This type of grief is called “disenfranchised grief”, and I couldn’t agree more.
Disenfranchised grief is when your grieving doesn’t fit in with your larger society’s attitude about dealing with death and loss and the lack of support you get during your grieving process can actually prolong your emotional pain.
The Ralph Site Blog, a non-profit for pet loss support, says, “People who have never experienced pet loss often see it as an experience that’s self-inflicted or view pets as commodities that can be easily replaced. As pet carers, we know better. We know that the loss of a pet can be just as painful and distressing as the loss of a human friend or family member, even if it is an expected part of caring for an animal.”
The grief of losing any pet is traumatic and we should talk about it more, so why don’t we?
We should feel comfortable talking about it. We should be able to show how heartbroken we are and not feel we have to hide it.
If some people don’t understand what you are going through, do not let them bother you.
Those that don’t understand are likely to never of had a pet to share their life with. Those that don’t understand are not animal lovers and clearly don’t understand the connection we have with our pets and how much they mean to us.
Our pets are and always should be part of the family, so why can’t we feel comfortable grieving for them in the same way we would a human family member?
Many people feel uncomfortable asking for time off work when their pet dies, even if they feel they need it, but why shouldn’t you have the time off?
Have you ever had to go to work the day after losing your bunny and sit there all day trying not to cry just because people wouldn’t understand why you are so upset.
How many times has someone said to you ‘It was just a rabbit, you can get another one’. Now that really is a heartless thing to say and it is hard to believe anyone would say something so hurtful, but they do. They just don’t realise that is the worst thing you could say. Even family can say it to you.
The problem is that many people do not witness your relationship with your bunnies. They can’t understand that a rabbit can be just like a dog. They are company, they make you laugh, they are there for you when you are having a bad day. They are therapeutic and they really do become your best friend. You spend more time with them than anyone else.
Rabbits may be small but when they leave us they leave a huge hole in our lives. The empty feeling you get is such a sickening feeling and stays with us for a long time. Your heart feels so broken and the feeling of loneliness and missing them is so overwhelming. So how is all this different to losing a friend or family member? It’s not, it’s can feel the same and we should not feel that is wrong. It’s not wrong, it is perfectly ok, it’s perfectly normal.
We should not be suffering and struggling in silence when we lose our pet. If we want to do something special to remember them, then we should do it and not feel ashamed in anyway. Do what feels right for you. From creating a beautiful grave, to having an item specially made out of a piece of their fur, to getting a tattoo. What ever brings you comfort, you should do.
Many people really feel the need to tell stories and share memories of their pet when they die. This is a way of reaching out for comfort and your friends, family and work colleagues should understand this.
Blog by Jess Sullivan and Della Smith
Our very own Best4bunny Magazine features a tribute page where bunny parents can pay tribute to their beloved bunnies. We see these tributes as extremely important because they show just how much our bunnies mean to us. They are an important part of the family that leave a huge emptiness in our lives. We hope these tributes bring comfort to those grieving.
Do feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to pay tribute to your beloved bunnies.