Death of a Pet

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The death of a pet who has been a faithful companion leaves a hole in your heart.

After your pet's death, interrupted habits of daily walks and companionship suddenly become a constant reminder of your friend’s absence. There is grief and pain from this loss that need healing.

picture of dog

The steps to recover from pet grief are much the same as when a human loved one dies. One of the unique difficulties is the people around you may minimize the significance of your pet loss. Another complication may be conflicted feelings you have about your role as a caregiver and the decision to euthanize your pet.

You may experience the same symptoms of grief as you would if a family member died. Tears, lack of energy or motivation, anger, guilt, sadness may be all part of the grieving process for you.

In addition, a pet's death may bring up grief from prior painful losses such as a divorce or relationship break up, or the loss of a parent or grandparent. Unresolved grief from past losses can increase the magnitude of the pain you feel today from your most recent loss.

How to deal with grief after the death of a pet

Picture of can in grassy field

Here are some ideas of how to deal with pet loss grief:

1. Create a memorial book of pictures that include your beloved pet. Add journaling to the pages to recall special times you had together.  Share your book with a friend who will listen with compassion as you express your memories and feelings.

2. Talk with a pet-loving friend about your loss. Share with your friend the things you miss about your pet as well as any regrets you have.

3. Make a pillow cover  or quilt with pictures of your pet to put on the couch or bed.

4. Create a memorial garden in honor of your pet. (If you live in an apartment you could use a planter.)

5. Read Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson Allen

6. Read 10 tips on coping with the Loss of a Pet

7. Visit a pet loss support group.

8. Consider grief recovery coaching to help you heal after the loss of a pet. For many people, the loss of a pet is only one of several other losses they have experienced in life.  This may be a time to focus on some healing.

Picture of pet rabbit on green lawn.

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