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Remember, You’re Not Alone When Grieving Your Pet's Death

You May Not Seem Okay Now, but With Time You Will Find a Way to Heal

Anyone who considers a pet to be a beloved friend, companion, or family member knows the intense pain that accompanies its loss. That’s why we want to share helpful information about coping with grief and the difficult decisions one faces upon the loss of a pet.

Tips When Grieving the Loss of an Companion Animal  

  • It can be quite emotionally and physically painful to experience the death of a beloved companion animal. Many people have shared that they experience stronger feelings for their pet’s loss than they felt when a human loved one died.
  • Everyone grieves differently, and each death experience may evoke different grief reactions. Factors affecting your grief may be influenced by the nature of the death, the relationship you had with the animal, and your coping patterns, support system, and spiritual beliefs.
  • There is no rule book for grief. It is a natural process that takes place over time. There are no fixed stepping stones you must go through. Grief takes as long as it takes for you. There is no magic time frame.
  • If you entertain thoughts about things you should have noticed or done or other similar guilty thoughts, know that you did the very best you could out of love at the time. Looking back, ruminating about regrets, or harshly judging yourself serves no useful purpose. Our pets were unconditionally loving and forgiving.
  • Think about what you learned from your animal companion. What did s/he teach you? Think about what was going on in your life while you had your pet. After that, look at why you think your pet was a part of your life at that particular time.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Stay connected with the people who understand the dynamics of pet loss.
  • Grieving takes a lot of energy, so it is important to stay healthy; eat nutritious food, sleep well, move around (e.g., walk, run, ride a bike, swim), and take four deep breaths periodically. Physical activity relieves stress and anxiety.
  • Sometimes, it is helpful to conduct a ritual or ceremony to memorialize and honor your pet’s life. Light a candle, read a poem, write a letter to your pet, and/or plant flowers or a bush in his/her honor. Be creative. Think about what would have been meaningful to your pet.
  • Grief is never really over. But it becomes more bearable as you accept the reality of the loss, adapt to a world without your pet, and learn to create a different emotional relationship. It is likely you will create a spiritual bond with your pet.
  • Do something nice for yourself as you grieve. Figure out what that might be and then do it.
  • Adopting another animal is a personal choice, but do so when you are ready. You would not be replacing your pet but adopting a different one. It is impossible to replace a pet as they all have different personalities, traits, and value.

“They are gone from our sight -- but never our memory, gone from our hearing – but never our hearts, gone from our touch – but their presence is felt, and the love they gave us never departs.”

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