Pets that are missing
If your pet is ‘lost’ and you do not know if they are alive or dead, this can be one of the most challenging situations to respond to. Once you have searched and explored all avenues and your pet remains missing, you may need to give some symbolic expression to the ‘holding’ and lack of certainty you feel. Many people hold out hope that their pet will be found or return, and certainly incredible journeys across vast distances have happened. But to acknowledge the sadness, loss, uncertainty you feel, whilst remaining hopeful can be very useful, for adults and children alike.
You can have a ceremony that encompasses all of what you feel - stating how much they mean to you, how confusing and challenging not knowing is, what you wish for them. Create a narrative for if they are alive and if they have died. You can make a place for them in your home, - collect photos, make a book, keep their food and water bowls out, or put them away as time progresses.
With children, whose pets go missing, speak to them simply and plainly, encourage them to express their feelings about not knowing. Encourage them to write letters, to begin to accept that their pet may not return and you may never know for sure what has happened. It may be very important to provide a physical burial of a symbolic object that belonged to the pet, or is associated to them and/or ceremony to honour them.