When is the right time for a new pet?


The grieving process can be long and complicated, and it is different for everyone that goes through it.

Unfortunately, a common experience for grieving owners is the reaction of well-meaning friends and family to simply ‘go out and get another one.’ It is much more complicated than heading to the nearest adoption home, though.

For a start, each owner needs to be ready and there are no hard and fast rules about when that might be. For some, the grieving process may be relatively quick and painless; for others, it can be traumatic, sometimes taking years to reach acceptance.

There are some considerations you should take into account before you make the decision to take on a new pet. First among these is whether you feel your pet’s death has been sufficiently memorialised: have you taken the time to remember the pet and all of the good times you had together? This could be a formal memento, such as planting a tree, or simply taking the time to talk to your family about the good times you had.

If you have not yet been able to do this, then the arrival of a new pet may trigger feelings of guilt or disloyalty.

These feelings may be present in other members of the household so a second consideration is how they feel about a new pet. It is certainly worth consulting everyone before you bring a new pet home or else you risk alienating your family.

Another consideration should be the other pets in your house and whether they are ready for a new companion. Some animals will take time to process their own grief and bringing a new pet into the house may cause friction. For the most part, though, animals are pretty adaptable and will generally respond positively if they are given a while to come to terms with the loss.

If you have carefully weighed all of these considerations, then we urge you to go through the same process as you did before you brought your first pet home. Think through the challenges that come with a pet and do not be tempted to look at things through rose-tinted spectacles, looking only at the fun side of owning an animal.

If, after all of this, you are still keen to find a new pet then there are thousands of animals in Hong Kong that need a forever home, and they will be endlessly grateful to you. It may well turn that you’re equally grateful to them for helping overcome the last vestiges of grief and enabling you to start a whole new chapter of your life.