In her memoir I Found My Tribe, Ruth Fitzmaurice writes: “When a pet dies, there is an empty space left where they used to be. You no longer feel or hear them moving through your world. They are just gone.”

The singular incident to provoke an outburst from her husband Simon, despite his debilitating motor neuron disease, is the moment she tells him she has had their dog Pappy put down. She describes Simon’s anguished response: “You killed my dog. You killed my dog without asking me. How could you? How could you do such a bad thing?”

Two weeks ago I empathized with Ruth when I had to euthanize our Jack Russell, Jack, after a stroke. I was devastated – the grief was intense, raw and overwhelming. Such grief for a pet can also be compounded by guilt when you have decided to end their life. It is a lonely place. However, if we take into account Dr Susan Delaney of the Irish Hospice Foundation’s explanation that “we grieve when we lose what is important to us”, then grief for a pet shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment but rather a testament to our love.

Dr Delaney, a clinical psychologist, encourages people to grieve their pet fully and without embarrassment. She elaborates: “We don’t always know how we’re going to respond to a loss until it happens… we don’t choose our feelings.” …Click here to read full story