By August 23, 2013 Read More →

Dealing with the loss of a pet

The loss of a pet is particularly difficult for home workers

Loss of a pet - Annette Morris & NibsWe started the week with a lighthearted look at the four-legged friends who give us help with home working. These faithful companions give us years of company and entertainment but inevitably their lives are much shorter than ours. When they die it leaves a big hole, and the loss of a pet that has played such a large role in our lives can be difficult to get over.

Earlier this year I had an email from Annette Morris, the founder of Languedoc Jelly, who works from home in France providing online marketing solutions for clients around the world. Annette was devastated by the sudden death of her Weimaraner Nibs, who was just eight years old and fit and well.

Annette said, ‘I was tempted to title this email “when working from home really sucks”, because I’m having such trouble with it at the moment…I recently lost my beloved dog.  It was totally unexpected and I am heartbroken.  We don’t have children and my partner is out all day.
‘My dog was my constant companion and it is so so hard to focus on work without him somewhere out the corner of my eye or under my desk. The memories are everywhere…Like most one-woman shows I can’t “shut shop” or delegate what I’m doing so I need to find a way to get back to working more efficiently…I look forward to any advice that you can share.’

Annette’s email brought tears to my eyes, because I had two cats, a tabby and a tortoiseshell, who were my companions for almost 20 years before dying of conditions related to old age. So I know what the loss of a pet is like. I thought about her situation for a couple of days before replying, and here are some of the things I said:

‘You’ve experienced a big shock and the loss of a dear friend. The fact that friend had four legs and not two is completely irrelevant.  That kind of trauma takes a long time to get over and feeling guilty about not being able to concentrate on work just makes it worse…

‘So be very kind and gentle to yourself. If you feel like crying, have a good old weep, regardless of what’s on the to-do list. I’ll bet when you have, you’ll feel much better for a while and able to do some work quite easily.

When you feel like a break, have one. I’m a huge fan of naps too, they seem to effortlessly sort out all the stuff that’s going on in our brains and leave space for some thinking about the things you need to think about…

Maybe change your routine a bit and work different hours – if you have some time off during the day, work in the evening, or late at night. Sometimes I feel useless all day but then get a second wind around bedtime!  

‘I really feel you need to go with your own timetable at a time like this and your partner will know it’s only temporary…If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from talking to home workers, it’s that we all have different ways of doing things, so feel free to completely disregard all of this if it doesn’t sit well with you!’

I also told Annette about the difficulties I’d had when starting to take care of my elderly parents, and how helpful it had been to write a post about it and receive such supportive feedback.

I was delighted to get an email from Annette last week – ’It’s true that reaching out to others really can help during times of distress. (I also phoned The Blue Cross and I’d recommend their bereavement service to anyone suffering the loss of a pet.)

‘After losing my dog, trying to put a brave face on things and run “business as usual” was making me feel so much worse. I was also reluctant to tell clients that I was grieving for a pet and not a person. Your comment to “give myself permission” to take things slowly was exactly what I needed to hear…

‘Taking the decision to work from home enabled me to have a dog in the first place – to me he was far more than “just a pet” and my daily routine almost centred around his needs. As any dog owner knows, you have to get out for a walk rain or shine, and keeping that kind of physical routine is good discipline for any kind of home worker…

Loss of a pet - Mattie & Skype‘During all this trauma the quality of my work for clients did not suffer but I think any homeworker needs to embrace every working day with energy and that was certainly lacking on a personal level for me for quite some time. Looking ahead I now have 2 new dogs (puppies Mattie and Skype – see pic!) and looking forward to becoming “social” again.

‘If it would be helpful to share my email/this issue about losing loved ones on your blog, please feel free…I’m pleased to hear you moved on after a time of such difficulty – it’s wonderful that you found such a lot of support. We often underestimate how many people have experienced the same or similar pain.’

How have you coped with the loss of a pet?
Do you have any other advice to offer a home worker in this situation? Elaine Pritchard sent me a sad email last year, after the unexpected death of her rescue greyhound Winnie, who was the first animal to feature in Unusual Home Working Jobs.

And thank you, Annette, for sharing a difficult time in your home working life. I’m sure many others going through the sad loss of a pet will find your experience helpful.

Annette and Nibs photo credit: Frances Gard

Posted in: Pets

23 Comments on "Dealing with the loss of a pet"

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  1. Sharon says:

    I totally feel for anyone who loses a pet, they truly become family and the loss is just as real as for a ‘human’. We’ve had to say goodbye to three beloved cats over the years, the hardest was Neo who was knocked down by a car just before his 3rd birthday. I think it was the ‘not being there’ for him that hurt the most.

    All your advice is totally sound Judy. Take time to grieve, don’t be afraid to say you’re upset over a pet rather than a person. If there’s one thing I have learned from admitting to my post natal depression and introvertedness it’s that there are more people out there who share your pain and experiences than you think. Social media enables you to find those people a little more easily than in real life too, I think.

    Enjoy your new furbabies Annette. They look gorgeous.

  2. Melanie says:

    Until you’re a pet owner I don’t think you understand just how much they become part of your family. We lost our beloved Ginger boy Alfie last year. We had him from a 7 week old kitten and brought him back to our new home a week after we moved in. We lost him, we think by a car and it was one of the worst days of my life having my neighbours knock to say he had been found. I was utterly devastated, as he was also special to us, even more so when I started working from him and would sit with my whilst I worked. The loss was so huge that I never thought I would have another cat again. The house was so quiet and we missed him all the time. But 18 months on we now have new double trouble with our two adopted moggies, Billy and Lola. They are four years old and were left at an animal sanctuary just before Christmas. As soon as we saw them I knew we had to have them. Their personalities are totally different and I love them both to pieces. It’s like the four of us needed each other to heal and be a little family again. As for Alfie he is buried in our garden, a place he loved and he’ll forever be in our hearts. So pleased you took on two new pups Annette. Life has a funny way of sending new pets your way just when the time is right.

    • It’s so good to hear another happy ending, Mel! As Annette says, when it happens it feels like you will always be this raw, but time and life do move on and often bring unexpected good things. Sounds like you and your husband and Billy and Lola are made for each other!

  3. Annette says:

    Thank you – it was such a painful experience I thought it would never end, and I am so very glad I contacted Judy 🙂 Kind words from homeworking friends both on and off-line really helped me get my head around things at work and the Blue Cross were absolutely brilliant.
    Melanie your blog is very moving; having so many wonderful memories can eventually outweigh the grief. Sharon I agree with you about opening-up, at first it may be hard to do but is often exactly what’s needed.

  4. Sharon says:

    Never heard them called furbabies before Judy? I think I picked it up from my American friends.

    Yes, that pic is very uplifting.

  5. Such wise words Judy, and lovely comments from other readers too. I am so sorry to read of your loss Annette. Enjoy Mattie and Skype, they look such fun!

    We had a very sad experience with two kittens earlier on this year and I was surprised about how much it affected me. Hope to have moggies again in the not too distant future.

    Kind words and time make a huge difference.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your kittens, Katie, I know how much you were looking forward to some company. Some former neighbours had a similar experience soon after we had all moved in, when a genetic condition killed their kittens when they were only a few months old. But since then they’ve had several cats who lived to a fine old age. Let us know when you decide to adopt again 🙂

  6. Losing a pet is absolutely devastating. Two years ago we had a boxer dog (only about 18 months old) jump our fence and get hit by a car. It happened right in front of my wife, she was heartbroken (as was I).

    Thank you for posting this. I think it is something every pet owner should read.


  7. Elaine Pritchard says:

    Oh Judy – what a great post. Thank you for mentioning Winnie. My heart goes out to Annette.

    In my case I also was able to adopt Winnie because I’d decided to run my own business from home – and it was very much me and her against the world. Walking her twice a day got me away from the computer and much-needed fresh air and exercise and she also gave me a sense of perspective as I watched her joy of living in the moment.

    Writing ‘as her’ for Winnie’s Dog Blog made it doubly difficult when she died – but the support I got from people like Judy and pet bloggers across the world was a comfort. More people understand your sense of loss than you might think.

    In April this year we adopted Monkey the greyhound – but these days I leave the dog blog writing to my husband and focus on the other parts of my business.

  8. Annette says:

    Thank you Michael – I hope time has helped ease the pain for you both.

    Working from home is generally a “win-win” for pets and pet owners – but it took me a while to want to talk about how hard the “lose-loss” part of that story can be.

    Elaine, your website is a lovely initiative – (and Monkey is a fabulous name for a dog!). Katie, I hope you have some new whiskers in the house soon!

  9. I posted this blog on Google+ and Sonja VanderDol left a comment to say that when she was in a similar situation a homeopath friend gave her some Ignatia ‘which definitely took the edge off’.
    An interesting remedy that had never occurred to me.

  10. I’m not sure how to reply directly to your post above, so I’ll just make a new one. 🙂

    Yes, we now have an English Bulldog and a Pomeranian. Neither of them will be able to jump over any fences!

    My wife and I would love to get another boxer someday when we have more property and a bigger fence, they are wonderful dogs!

    Thanks for replying!


  11. Jackie Osborne says:

    Hi Judy

    I had two lovely dogs that I adopted when I lived in Hong Kong, bringing them back to the UK when I came home. They kept me going through some really dark times and in an earlier foray into working from home they were my constant companions. Sadly both died at the grand age of 15 about 6 months apart. I am working from home again and really miss them.
    I can’t get another dog just yet but I have a great solution – I do doggie day care for my other home working friends when they spend time with clients. My four legged guests are a real joy and of course it helps out my friends who work from home!! I don’t charge but do get favours in return – help putting up my new shed, dinners, etc.
    I hope this gives someone else an idea for coping with their loss.

  12. Quiddoo says:

    We lost our pet some years ago and my mother was the one who suffered more as she was working from home. We still miss him, was such a good dog, was really hard for my mum…

  13. Thank you for this post. I recently started an at-home business, and one of the reason was because of our two dogs, who are our kids. I enjoyed being home with them after so many years of working outside of the home.

    We are now down to just one furbaby, Zed, as Esa passed away suddenly at the age of 6 on December 1, 2013 from a genetic heart condition where the first sign is sudden death.

    Since then, it has been hard to get motivated daily and really get my business off of the ground. I definitely believe in the good bawling the eyes out and a nap theories. They both have helped me on the days that I just have no motivation. My co-worker, Zed, right by my side during those times. I am happy that I have him.

  14. Annette says:

    Ronalyn I am so sorry to hear about your Esa. It can be very hard to keep the business momentum going when inside you feel emotionally exhausted and a shattered mess. I also think it can take longer to come to terms with a loss when it is so sudden. You have lost a very special companion and part of your daily routine – not just in you home life but in your working life too. If you can find a way to take a few day to day pressures off yourself for a while it can really help. I think when we detach ourselves from the “noise” we can start to recover and refocus – essential for you and in the long run it will benefit your business too 🙂 Take care.

    • I’m sorry too, Ronalyn, and I hope reading about Annette and the comments from other home workers are helping. I agree with Annette in giving yourself some time. Building a home business takes a lot of energy, which is better diverted to your grieving at the moment. It’s good that Zed is keeping you company. Your motivation will come back 🙂