5 Healing Ways to Survive Pet Loss

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart.”
(Erica Jong)

One of the hardest parts of being a pet parent or involved in the pet industry is the loss of our special furry animals. In honor of World Pet Memorial Day, we want to reach out to all of us that have lost that special pet. The loss of life is never easy, whether it’s a beloved family member or friend or a special pet who shared their short life and unconditional love with us. Saying good-bye and dealing with the often overwhelming grief can be challenging and even isolating for a devoted pet guardian. You’re not alone and below are 5 healing steps to help you survive the loss of your beloved pet.

1. Be KIND to Yourself

Research has shown that losing a pet causes very real psychological distress. Grief is a deeply personal and natural reaction. Do not let anyone tell you how – or how long – to grieve. The mourning process is as personal as the loss.

Grief is a journey most of us would choose not to take if we could. But it’s a non-negotiable, natural part of life. So during the process, be kind to yourself and allow yourself space and time you need without worrying about what others say or want you to do. Allow yourself to move through the emotions of grief – including anger, confusion, loneliness, shock, guilt, devastation, and depression – without judgment. Indulge in self-care and self-love and always remember, it takes time to heal and move on.

Explaining a family pet’s death to a child can be challenging
especially when you’re trying to deal with your own feelings of grief.

2. FOCUS on Happy Memories

Thinking about happier times can help ease the burden of grief. Reflect upon and celebrate the good times and special memories that made your pet so special. By doing so, you will also bring some balance to the loss by remembering how much they enhanced your life when they were here with you.

3. MEMORIALIZE Your Pet in a Special Way

Part of the human process involves finding a suitable way to memorialize a lost loved one; losing a pet is no different. There are many options for keeping your passed pet’s memory alive (like some of the samples we’ve put in this post) and include photo books and videos, portraits, jewelry, written or craft tributes, planting a tree or garden in their memory, customized urns and financial donations to animal welfare organizations or researchers working on cures for pet diseases.

Don’t know what to say or do for a friend that has lost their pet, this is a great gift that requires no words!
Angel of Friendship, Hand-painted Angel

Artist Susan Lordi hand carves each Willow Tree piece from her studio in Kansas City, MO. This piece is cast from Susan’s original carving and painted by hand.

4. Accept SUPPORT: Don’t Isolate Yourself

When faced with recent loss and the ensuing grief, it may seem easier to shut out the world and isolate yourself. While each person grieves in their own way and time, it’s also important to allow others to help support you during this difficult time. Support groups for pet loss, both online and in person, exist for this very reason, to let you know you are not alone. Other pet lovers have been where you are and have come out the other side. So let them support you during this very personal journey. Not everyone will understand your grief (including friends and family), so reach out to those who can personally understand what you’re going through after losing your pet. Your veterinarian, humane society or local shelters may be able to suggest support groups for pet loss in your local area.

Hand-painted Keepsake Box

Artist Susan Lordi hand carves each Willow Tree piece from her studio in Kansas City, MO. This piece is cast from Susan’s original carving and painted by hand.

5. Let LOVE in Again

Often, after the traumatic loss of a beloved pet, it may seem safer to protect yourself from more hurt by not bringing another pet into your home. But life is to be lived with an open heart and so many homeless pets need a loving home. When you’re ready (and you will know when that is), give some thought about opening your heart and your home to another pet. Getting another pet will never replace the one you lost or lessen the love and bond you shared. But it will make a world of difference to that homeless pet and together you can heal your heart.

ALL DOGS GO TO KEVIN is a humorous and touching memoir that will appeal to anyone who has ever loved an animal or lost hours in James Herriot’s classic veterinary stories.

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Colorado Department of Agriculture as
a Pet Animal Care Facility?

We offer classes on nutrition, pet First Aid & CPR and have an excellent selection of
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