Coping With Loss

As you mourn your beloved friend, remember to celebrate the life and love you shared

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Suggestions for coping with the loss of a pet

  • The first days are the hardest. Give yourself time to rest and reflect. You may crave the company of people who want to hear about your pet, or you may need time alone.

  • Everyone has their own way of grieving — some people want to slow down, while others try to stay busy. Some people like to talk about feelings, while others keep strong emotions to themselves. Try to understand if another family member’s response is different from yours.

  • Coping with loss takes time. Expect to have good days and bad days as you miss your dearly departed friend. It is very common for strong emotions to catch you by surprise, especially because so many places, objects, events, and anniversaries can trigger powerful memories. Don’t try to make yourself “get over it” by any deadline or according to anyone else's expectations. Strong feelings can resurface days, months, and even years later - this is very natural when remembering those we have lost.

  • Guilt is always part of grieving. It is impossible to experience loss without regret for things we could have done better, or for things wish we hadn’t done. Expect to feel guilt and try to forgive yourself for anything that could have been better. Don’t forget to remember all the love and care you gave to your pet. Click HERE for more information on guilt and pet loss.

  • Resources for children can help kids understand death and cope with sadness. A link to resources for parents is at the bottom of this page.

  • When feelings of grief seem overwhelming, seek help from people who understand. This may be a friend, a support group, or a grief counselor. A resource list is below.

Suggestions for Memorializing a Pet

  • Compiling a photo album or scrapbook can help recollect happy times

  • Videos and photos can be posted online, on Facebook or on a pet memorial site such as APLB.org or RainbowBridge.com - you may be surprised to find how many people will reach out to you

  • Other creative ideas include writing a poem, stories, song or eulogy for your pet

  • Paw prints on paper or clay

  • Keepsakes such as tags, a whisker, lock of hair, feather, or a memorial stone can make a pet’s memory more tangible

  • Plant a memorial plant or garden

  • Consider making a donation to an animal charity in your pet’s name

  • Commission a painting made from a photograph

  • Pets’ ashes can be incorporated into beautiful materials such as Memory Glass and tattoo ink.

  • Light a candle each day in memory of your pet, remembering the love and joy you shared

Pet Loss Support Resources

There are many ways to reach out to others who care and understand. Your feedback for any of the resources listed here is welcome, as are suggestions for additional resources.