ADVANCED psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist CLAIRE GASKIN sees clients in Essex and in London’s Harley Street. She is now bringing her expertise to the problems of our readers as our agony aunt. If you have a problem you’d like Claire’s advice with, email agonyaunt@nqe. com. For more details on Claire’s work, visit

Dear Claire,

                 About a month ago my beloved pet dog died and I cannot seem to get over it.

She was almost 14 so had lived a very good life and I am thankful for all the good times she gave me.

My husband and I bought her together, as a pup, for company and to give us a reason to get out and about as we got older and she did exactly that.

Sadly my husband died five years ago and she has helped me through the utter devastation and loneliness that brought and to a place where I was starting to enjoy life again.

Now I am back to feeling totally lost and alone again and obviously it is hard for people to understand that grief since it is essentially about a dog.

I can tell people are starting to lose patience and while I know getting a pup would be a solution, I do worry so much because there is now a real possibility, because I am well in to my 70s now, I would outlive him or her and then who would look after it ?

Claire says:

Many readers will understand your grief. When you feel ready, why not consider giving a home to an older dog who has lost theirs? The Dogs Trust (0207 837 0006) and the RSPCA (01702 548261) can both help you find your next furry companion.

But please don’t wait until then to get out and about. Us humans are social creatures.

Being disconnected or isolated from others can seriously affect our mental health.

Chronic loneliness is linked with depression and recent studies show it can even lead to premature death.

If you haven’t been very active for a while, get involved with one of the walking groups organised by ‘Walking for Health’, a network of schemes throughout England led by friendly volunteers, who will encourage and support you. Contact your local council for more information.

In the meantime, if you think you could do with a little help to deal with your loss, contact Cruse, a national charity which offers free support for bereaved people: 0808 808 1677.