We've dealt with a lot of loss over the years with our animal friends. And this issue has come up for me before, but not so painfully or notably, for a number of reasons.
The first week or so, it didn't really register. But more and more, reality intrudes: I am subscribed to a LOT of emails - many shopping-oriented, for coupon codes - that are ferret-centered and from which I need to unsubscribe.
I think I've been able to be in denial about others: we could start another aquarium at any time, and the fact is that we WILL have birds again (like it or not?) because we're the appointed guardians of two for sure, and two more in all probabilty (and I really need to nail that down one way or another, if only for planning). So I could easily/happily just delete and ignore emails from companies/groups regarding avian and aquatic companions.
Ferrets are a whole different ballgame. They are SO easy to keep accumulating, and SO hard to say no to once you know and love them. And you never want to just have one last and lonely ferret. It feels just awful. But at the same time, we made the decision not to take in any more several years ago, because we DID have to make a decision. The pain of losing them is hard to describe or explain. It's similar to losing a cat or a dog, but worse because the life was shortened and condensed and so much more potent and vibrant. Some people can accept that and deal with it; Chris and I aren't such people. It hurts too much, and we just couldn't take it any more.
I'm not saying we've taken a stance of never ever again living with ferrets, because I could never say that (and I don't think he could either), but it will be a good 20 years until we try again, should we choose to. So as the emails come in, I've been unsubscribing. And it's like salt in a wound. It stings, and in a place I wasn't expecting.