Pawprints On Your Heart: Grieving And Coping With Pet Loss

A tennis ball on the ground

We all know it’s inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with pet loss. Whether sudden or unexpected, the death of a beloved pet is never easy – and the path to healing can seem never ending.

Sadly, our society doesn’t take pet loss, and the associated emotions, as seriously as it should. This leaves grieving pet owners with few avenues for support as they process their sadness.

At All Creatures Veterinary Hospital we empathize deeply with the loss of a pet, and we hope to connect you to resources and ideas that can help you cope and begin to heal. 

Coping After Pet Loss

It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. You may experience a wide array of emotions beyond intense pain and sadness; guilt, denial, anger, depression, and even ambivalence are all normal. 

If you have questions about your pet’s death, even in cases where you chose euthanasia, please don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Sometimes feelings of guilt and anger can be alleviated by understanding more about your pet’s condition or how they died.

Taking Care Of You

It’s easy to get caught up in helping children and other family members following the death of a pet, and life’s responsibilities don’t go away just because we’re grieving. However, it’s critical for your healing to allow yourself the time and space to grieve, and to remember to take care of your physical and emotional health. 

Prioritize sleep, healthy meals, and healing walks or other forms of gentle movement during this time. Additionally, don’t be afraid to reach out to trusted friends or family members for comfort, or consider reaching out to one of the many local pet loss bereavement groups.

Honoring Your Pet

Creating an object or ritual that honors your pet can be profoundly healing, especially for children. We offer the following suggestions, but feel free to memorialize your pet in whatever way feels right to you.

  • Frame a photo of your pet and display it in a place of honor in your home.
  • Hold a memorial service with friends and family.
  • Create a scrapbook or memorial box with pictures and mementos of your pet.
  • Plant a commemorative tree or perennial flower.
  • Donate or volunteer at a local animal shelter in honor of your pet. When you’re ready, return to the shelter to adopt your next pet.

Please remember that your All Creatures team is here to support you during this intensely difficult time. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns, we’ll do whatever we can to help.