The loss of an animal companion, whether due to death, being lost or stolen, or placement in a new home, may be one of the most devastating and painful experiences an animal lover can ever face. For many, such a loss is as traumatic as losing a family member or a dear friend and can trigger an intense grieving process. That is why we are providing some resources to aid you throughout your grieving process.
While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. Some people may not understand the depth of feeling you had for your pet, but you should never feel guilty or ashamed about grieving for an animal friend. The key to coping is to accept your feelings and embrace the emotions you feel.
Understanding pet loss grief. For many people a pet is not “just a dog” or “just a cat.” He or she is a beloved member of the family and a loving companion When a companion animal dies, you can feel a significant, even traumatic loss. The intensity of your sense of loss depends on many factors such as your age and personality, the age of your pet, and the circumstances of their death. Generally, the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief you’ll feel. This is natural.
As with all bereavement and grief the feelings can be complicated by the role the animal played in your life. For example, if your pet was a working dog or a helper animal such as a guide dog, then you’ll not only be grieving the loss of a companion but also the loss of a coworker or the loss of your independence. If you lived alone and the pet was your only companion, coming to terms with his loss can be even harder. If you were unable to afford expensive veterinary treatment to prolong the life of your pet, you may even feel a profound sense of guilt.
Dealing with the loss of a pet when others devalue your loss. One aspect that can make grieving for the loss of a pet so difficult is that pet loss is not appreciated by everyone. Friends and family may ask “What’s the big deal? It’s just a pet!” Some people assume that pet loss shouldn’t hurt as much as human loss, or that it is somehow inappropriate to grieve for an animal. They may not understand because they don’t have a pet of their own, or because they are unable to appreciate the companionship and love that a pet can provide.
Don’t argue with others about whether your grief is appropriate or not. Accept the fact that the best support for your grief may come from outside your usual circle of friends and family members. Seek out others who have lost pets; those who can appreciate the magnitude of your loss, and may be able to suggest ways of getting through the grieving process.
Please check our Pet Loss links. We hope the information and support you find there will help you with your bereavement and grieving the loss of your beloved companion animal.
Oh, when we get to Heaven
We hope that we will find
The souls that once we loved
Who left us all behind.
Some left us at the right time
They left this world in peace
Others left too sudden
Without the chance to say Goodbye,
They were gone before we had
The chance to even cry.
There’s a special place for grownups
A special place for kids
Me? I’ll be on the other side
The side called Rainbow Bridge.
Across the dark green meadow
A’top the hills I’ll run
Where the colors from the rainbow
Glitter from the sun.
And there I’ll find my sweetheart
Running fast toward me
In my arms where he belongs
for all eternity.