A pet provides companionship and someone to talk to.
Here three of our Widowed Young Support volunteers share their stories of how a pet has helped them.
On a sunny, peaceful morning in August 2007 when my husband Clive died, having lost his short battle with cancer, my world changed forever. I was numb. Life was to change again fourteen months later when my son left for university.
The little home had fallen silent. It was just me now. However, there was Dexter our cat. He was a stray who we had adopted five years earlier. He was a typical cat who paid no rent, turned up regularly for his meals and sat by the fire.
Dexter was an incredible companion. When he heard the sobbing, he would always come and gently lick up the flow of tears that fell on my hands. I was comforted by the attention he gave me. He seemed to understand what I was going through. Despite the cat’s company, I still felt alone. I craved a closer companionship. A friend suggested I might like to consider having a canine friend.
On New Year’s Eve 2008 a little black and tan Cocker Spaniel came into my life, or should I say our lives. Dexter was totally captivated, as was I, with this little pup.
As the months turned to years and sadly Dexter passed away, ‘Gizmo’ has become the best mate I could have ever asked for. He gets me out walking every day. Always gives me a warm welcome when I come home bringing me his toys asking me to play with him. I can talk to him, and in his own little way, he communicates with me too.
He has been the therapy I have needed to get me through the difficult times. He, just like Dexter was, has been on hand to lick away my tears and snuggle close when I have needed it most. His presence has evoked my maternal feelings. He needs me as much as I need him. My pets have helped me to do something that after that dreadful summer of 2007 I thought I would never do again…..smile!
My first wife Karena’s battle with ovarian cancer ended in her death in early 2010 and my Great Sadness began. However, my two cats Tom and Jake and my Labrador Sam were a great companion for me, especially in the long quiet evenings after I’d put my three children to bed. My pets and in particular Sam were there for me as a real comfort on my grief journey and they were also a continuing bond to my Karena.
I married Ellie, herself widowed young many years before me, in 2011 after meeting on a Care for the Family weekend in Woking. Two families were now blended into one.
We decided to get Horace, a rescue dog, as part of our wider, bigger-picture, one-family identity. All the kids love him to bits … and Ellie and me too. He sits on the sofa with his head on your lap and works his magic when you’re feeling low! I guess some people wouldn’t get it, but for us the cats and dogs have been life giving!
I lost Terry to bowel cancer in 2013 after 27 years of marriage. About 18 months later feeling low, and seeing friends and family with puppies I decided with my son Matt, to purchase an apricot Toy Poodle puppy who is named Tommy.
I am so glad we got Tommy. From the moment he first tried to jump up out of his crate to say hello to us, he has been an absolute delight. I cannot feel lonely with him around – he follows me about from room to room! He lies at my feet or on the sofa beside me, sometimes resting his head on my lap.
The thing about dogs is that they have very simple demands on you, just feed them and give them some of your time and company and they will absolutely adore you. I went from walking into an often dark and empty house, to being welcomed home by a soft, excited, loving creature who wants to be with you all the time and will love you forever. He makes me laugh too, and is quite hilarious at times.
Of course there is hard work involved in training and walking etc, but these things give you a sense of purpose and can be a joy too. Walking in the countryside with a dog is a therapy I would recommend to anyone going through the life-shattering experience of loss. It won’t solve all your troubles but it will provide new ways to distract and uplift you.
I still get sad and frustrated, but being responsible for Tommy gives me a wonderful reason to get up in the morning, I absolutely love him to bits.
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