Pet Loss and Bereavement Services
Losing a pet is like losing a beloved member of the family. Grieving over this loss is normal and natural, and it is both an emotional and physical burden to bear. While the hurt of losing a pet never truly goes away, dealing with the grief does become easier over time.
On this page you will find helpful resources, including links to other pet loss and support websites, regarding what to expect when your pet is nearing the end as well as how to cope with the loss after he has passed.
Coping with the loss of a pet
Grieving over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Your pet was a beloved part of your family, a source of joy and unconditional love, and a constant part of your life. It is understandable and expected that the loss of that relationship is difficult to cope with and that you may be experiencing mixed emotions that might include sadness, anger, selfishness, frustration, or even guilt.
It is important to not deny yourself any feelings you may be having, even if it feels wrong to have them. Anger, denial, guilt, or depression are all natural parts of the grieving process. It is ok to cry, just as it is ok to laugh a little. Many people find comfort in sharing fond memories of their pets with family and friends after their pet is gone. Especially for children, drawing pictures, creating a collage, or writing poems can also help after the loss of a pet. It is important to allow yourself time to acknowledge any feelings you may have over the loss of your pet. In order to truly cope, you cannot continually push those feelings away.
Feelings of guilt or anger are not uncommon, especially if your pet was lost due to an accident or sudden illness. It is important to remember, though, that it is impossible for us to control all aspects of our lives. It does not help to dwell on the "if only's" and "what ifs." The sooner you can acknowledge and let go of your anger or guilt, the sooner you will be able to start resolving your grief.
Many people also feel guilty when they notice periods of time in which they are "forgetting to grieve." They feel they should be grieving 24/7 and anything less is disloyal to their pet's memory. However, it is normal to allow yourself moments of happiness after your pet has passed. Learning to enjoy yourself again is a natural step in the healing process. Allow yourself to have some fun, and even laugh a little! On the other hand,
If you find yourself struggling with constant reminders of your pet during particular times of the day, try filling that time with another activity. Often, rearranging your schedule to fill those times can help you process your grief and make it easier to bear. If you have surviving pets at home, spend some extra time with them. They are likely grieving the loss as well and will appreciate the affection. Overall, remember that everyone's timetable is different and that only YOU know how you are feeling and what will help you cope.