Grieving the Loss of your Pet

When a person you love dies, it's natural to feel sorrow, express grief, and expect friends and family to provide understanding and comfort.

Unfortunately, many consider grieving the loss of "just a pet" inappropriate which couldn't be further from the truth.  

People love their pets and consider them members of their family; they celebrate their pets' birthdays, confide in their animals, and carry pictures of them in their wallets.

So, when a beloved pet dies, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of sorrow.

What Is the Grief Process?

The grief process is as individual as the person, lasting days for one person or years for another. The process typically begins with denial, which offers protection until individuals can recognize their loss.

While grief is a personal experience, you need not face loss alone. Many forms of support are available including pet bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, local or online bereavement groups, books, videos, and magazine articles.

What Can I Do for My Child?

The loss of a pet may be a child's first experience with death. The child may blame himself, his parents, or the veterinarian for not saving the pet.

He may also feel guilty, depressed, and frightened that others he loves may be taken away from him.

Trying to protect your child by saying the pet ran away could cause the child to expect the pet's return and feel betrayed after discovering the truth. Expressing your own grief may reassure your child that sadness is okay and help him work through his feelings.

Click here to read the story of the Rainbow Bridge.

Five Ways to Remember Your Pet

1. Hold a memorial service
2. Find a special place for your pet's ashes
3. Create a living memorial
4. Make a scrapbook
5. Write down your feelings

Moira Allen has developed a great brochure that may help you or someone you love. Please click here to download the brochure.