Pet Loss: 10 Tips for Coping With the Grief

No question about it, coping with the loss of a treasured pet is hard. The grief you feel from pet loss can be intense and complicated. In fact, that grief can be just as strong as what you experience when a human with which you have a close relationship dies.

Working through grief from your pet’s loss will take time, and each person must handle it in their own way. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you work your way through the process of grieving and cope with the pain you are feeling.

10 Tips for Coping with Pet Loss

The important thing is that you don’t minimize your grief and if you feel like it is too much to manage you reach out for help. There are many places to turn for pet loss support. So take your time and go easy on yourself. With time, things will get easier.

>>For more information on dealing with the loss of a pet, visit our Coping with the Loss of a Pet page.

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  1. Accept that what you are feeling is normal.
    Science has proven that there is a special bond between humans and their pets. As a result, when you lose your furry friend, you will experience a sense of loss and grief. What you are feeling is very real and very normal.  Remember, everyone experiences grief differently and the same is true for the loss of a pet. There is no right way. In other words, it is more than ok to feel what you are feeling.
  2. Understand feelings of guilt.
    Unfortunately, we don’t always get to define the terms of our pet’s death. We may be required to make difficult decisions and hard choices. For example, many people experience feelings of guilt when forced to choose euthanasia for their pet. It can help to remind yourself that you have prevented your companion from pain and suffering by making that hard choice.
  3. Take your time and allow yourself to grieve.
    Everyone grieves in their unique way and on their own personal timetable. No clock counts down and magically removes the pain and sadness at a particular time. Take the time you need to process your grief over pet loss on your terms.
  4. Talk About it.
    Talking about the special times, you shared with your pet can help. Friends and family members who were acquainted with your pet and who, perhaps, share their memories can help you reminisce and remember the good times. If you don’t have someone close to whom you can talk, reach out to one of the many available hotlines.
  5. Say Goodbye.
    Holding a special ceremony or ritual can go a long way in offering comfort. You can create a celebration that is as large or as small as you like. Invite friends and family to contribute and participate. You’ll get a chance to say a formal goodbye and celebrate the pet’s life.
    >>See Making Pet Funeral Arrangements
  6. Memorialize your pet.
    There are many ways you can create a special memorial to your pet. From buying a unique personalized urn for display or having a garden stone made, you are sure to find a way to create a loving way to remember your pet.
    >>Visit our Pet Memorial Store
  7. Find healthy ways to handle the pain.
    One good way to navigate the difficult journey through grief is to find productive and healthy ways to occupy your mind and body. Activities such as walking and yoga are good examples. Creative activities can also offer a rewarding way to spend time. Visiting with friends and family, reading books you have meant to get to, and offering your time to volunteer are other good alternatives. The point is, do something that makes you happy. Doing these things doesn’t mean you forget your pet; instead, you are honoring their memory by improving your state of mind.
  8. Give yourself a break.
    Remember that you are going through a difficult time. You may have been caregiving a pet suffering a prolonged illness or have experienced the shock of sudden death. You may also have had to make difficult decisions. Allow yourself to rest, and don’t be critical of the way you may have handled things. You are human and deserve a break. Give yourself the gift of understanding just as you would for someone else who is navigating the difficult journey through grief.
  9. Help others deal with their grief.
    Helping others in your family who are experiencing the grief of pet loss can help you as well. Children, in particular, will need understanding and guidance in dealing with their sadness. Find activities for them to do that allow them to express what they are feeling. If you are holding a ceremony or funeral for your pet, be sure to give them a role in designing the activities.
  10. Get help if you need it.
    If you are feeling overwhelmed and having thoughts that may be destructive, reach out for professional help. There are many support groups and help agencies available that offer resources for those experiencing grief over the loss of a pet. Please take advantage of the services they offer. You don’t have to go through this difficult journey alone.

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