I am writing this to share with you some experiences and some things that I learned about coping with the death of a beloved pet, in the hope that it might be helpful to you at this time - if not later. What I have learned is probably as old as time, but still very real, and it is probably common to all those who have suffered the loss of a beloved pet.
When I was a boy, we had kennels and a cattery, which happened because the idea germinated in my mother's mind that we could help to find homes for unwanted or stray dogs and cats. Our house was in the Welsh hills, built on land which also had some little-used outbuildings and stables, which became the kennels and a cattery.
It was my job to take care of all the animals - which included the cats and dogs, a pony belonging to one of my sisters, and my budgie (a female). In the kennels we had, typically, at any given time, about 15 dogs, and in the cattery we had about 10 cats (the numbers varied as new ones were born or given to us and as they were taken by new owners). Some of them we kept in the house as pets, and some we just kept because no-one wanted them. The ones we kept, we would usually spay the queens and bitches, though my mother was very reluctant to do that to them, as it was an interference with the purpose of Nature and which she did not wish to mess with (e.g., I was the 7th and last child that she bore!).
My duties were all-encompassing - feeding, exercising and playing with the dogs and cats, inspecting them for disease/illness, parasites (ticks and fleas), and providing prevention and first aid and general care, mucking out the kennels and cattery, keeping the animals clean and the grounds clean of dog/cat poo, pre-natal care, midwifery (helping in the delivery of new-born pups and kittens) and post-natal care and round-the-clock nursing in cases of serious illness where the vet had said things were touch-and-go for one of my charges.
Sometimes their little lives seemed so brief, life sometimes being easily extinguished, and other times the tenacity of the weakest and most desperately sick creature was astounding as they hung onto life, seemingly inextinguishable and oblivious to the impossibility of their staying alive - and yet they did survive and would recover.
And all the time like a steady metronome in one's existence, as their lives progressed in one's care, one's love for them grew without one's being consciously aware of it's growing or even realising it. They were sometimes adoring of me and they were often my lovable friends. I had watched them grow, had trained them in good behaviour. They became somehow a part of me. Tick-tock-tick-tock... until sudden realisation of this reality as they were snatched away by a new owner (which was a good thing and a cause for joy), or by death (which was not a good thing). As I grew older, the deaths - which I had initially been able to view in detached and objective fashion - progressively became most painful experiences. They gave me a gut-wrenching sense of loss and overpowering love. I have held them in my arms and comforted them as they were dying of some illness, or occasionally collected their lifeless bodies after them having been killed in an accident, and I have held them down and comforted them on the vet's table as they were being given euthanasia by injection, sometimes cruelly before their time because it would be more cruel to let them go on living in misery or pain or neglected old age.
And after leaving home and making my own way through life, I had children, and they wanted pets, and those pets became part of me too. The memories of these creatures - their vitality and their faces - flicker by in my mind's eye as I write this - accompanied still by that same sense of loss and love, bringing me inevitably close to tears as it always does. The last time I experienced this painful remembering was 7 years ago when I helped take a friend's very sick cat to the vet for euthanasia. I knew what my friend was about to go through, and it seemed the best way I could help. The cat's name was Tammin, and he had reached the end of a pretty long innings. Though Tammin was not my pet, I saw him as a lovely old man with a beautiful nature and I always enjoyed his company, and he would graciously sometimes sit on my knee to let me know that he thought I was OK too (or so I imagined), but more probably (if I am to be honest about it) in hope that I might feed him something tasty.
So what did I learn about this that I think I can usefully share? That unless there is something very "wrong" with us (e.g., a sociopath or a psychopath), we all seem to be made in such a way (i.e., it is a characteristic of and in our nature to be so) that we have the inherent capacity for unconditional, one-way love. There may be other forms of "love" that we talk about, but I would argue that they are not "real" love, but rather a metaphor for something else that we cannot adequately describe.
I am thus referring to the unconditional variety only, and this will be unconsciously and actively directed outwards at/towards those we are closest to/with, regardless of whether we want it to be, and that love for another will tend to become an inseparable part of us. The beloved becomes a part of us. This can sometimes be experienced episodically and unbidden in brief moments - "flashes" of love - and often coming unbidden when sitting quietly or peacefully in silent communion with oneself or the beloved. The beloved other may be unaware of this or may even be absent.
One can become progressively aware of this in oneself, and the gut-wrenching sense of loss on the departure and especially death of the beloved is what each of us - including I and you - are likely to experience when "our" Saffron dies. But not so fast! Though Saffron has died, that part of you that is Saffron has not died - the love (and Saffron or a proxy) is effectively still alive in you, and there's little you can do to change that, because it is a characteristic of our natures (QED).
There's a lot more I would like to say about this, but I'll stop here with a suggestion that you keep your senses alert for signs of Saffron.
I had always thought that my artsy and theatrically-inclined older sisters had been engaging in theatrical/superstitious imaginings when they spoke of sometimes seeing the ghosts of some of our deceased pets. Being skeptical, I dismissed the idea. But then, years later, my wife and I had a much-loved pet dog that died. The dog used to go to sleep on the floor on my wife's side of the bed each night, nearly always lying down with a characteristic long drawn-out sigh/grunt as she relaxed. It was a kinda comforting sound. Two weeks after the dog had died, after my wife and I had lain down in bed and were preparing to go to sleep one night, I heard the dog giving her grunt from off my wife's side of the bed. Then I realised that the dog couldn't have, as she was dead, so I asked my wife "Did you just hear a noise?" and she said "Yes, I heard the dog grunting like she always does when she lies down. Did you hear it too? I thought I been imagining it!"
Then several years ago, as I was sat down on a chair in the kitchen-cum-family room, tying up my shoelaces, I was startled to hear the loud and unmistakable chirping of our yellow budgie Daffodil, coming from where she liked to perch, on the handle of a copper kettle on top of a cupboard. We always let her and Streak - her green budgie companion - fly around the room when the ranchsliders (doors) and windows were closed. In some annoyance I thought to myself "Who the ruddy heck let those birds out without telling me? They might have escaped if we'd left a door or window open." and straightened up to look towards the copper kettle, expecting to see Daffodil perched on its handle, when I simultaneously recalled that the budgies had both been dead for about two years. I looked around and there was no bird in the room, and the windows and doors were all closed. The house had sound and thermal insulation, so outside sounds rarely intruded.