Grieving for Your Pet
We recently lost our wonderful dog. We are overcome with the sense of loss of a beloved family member. Are there ways to help us cope with this grief?
Losing a beloved pet can be very painful for the whole family. Pets are part of our families and they are a source of unconditional love and companionship. When they die, we experience feelings a lot like those when we lose a human family member or friend. Understanding the grieving process and knowing that it is acceptable and necessary to grieve for your pet will help you. This will allow your family to process feelings of loss and adapt to life without your pet.
It is important to give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your pet. Grief is a process that is experienced differently by each person and at an individual pace. If you find yourself “stuck” in any one phase, it may be helpful to seek counseling or the support of others who have experienced the loss of a pet.
Usually the grief process includes shock and denial, anger and guilt, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance and resolution.
Honoring and memorializing your pet is an important part of the grieving and healing process. You might consider making a donation to animal-related organization in memory of your pet, carrying out a ritual such as lighting a candle for your pet, or having a memorial service with family and friends, making a scrapbook of your pet’s life, writing about your special memories of your pet, or talking to others who have experienced a similar loss such as in a support group.
There may be a pet loss support group in your community. Check with your veterinarian to find out more about this.
You should only get another pet when you feel that you are ready. Some bereaved are ready soon after the loss of their pet, others may want to wait until they have completed the grieving process.