Pet Loss & Grief Support
Losing a pet is often accompanied by an extreme depth of emotion that is hard to overcome. Our pets are not just animals to us. They fit perfectly into our lives and add not only companionship and fun, but also true joy.
Sometimes people are surprised by how much the death of a beloved pet affects their mental and emotional well-being, but this grief is normal and common. You are entitled to feel whatever range of emotions you feel while processing the loss.
Everyone experiences grief differently, and it is important to honor these feelings however you need to honor them. Self-care is an extremely important aspect of the healing process and can help you move through feelings of grief, guilt, or shame that you might be experiencing.
Here are some resources that can help you work through these feelings and get the support you need as you grieve the loss of your cherished companion:
- HelpGuide provides articles that help you cope with pet loss.
- The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) is a nonprofit group with resources and dedicated volunteers designated to help you through this difficult time.
- Please click here for a comprehensive list of support groups, pet loss counseling, and live person-staffed phone hotlines around the country.
- The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine also offers counseling for seniors as well as other grief resources.
- National Suicide Prevention Life Line: (800) 273-8255
- Fee-based Grief Counselor: 855-PET-LOSS (855-738-5677)
- UC Davis Client Support Counselor: (530)-752-7341
If you are really struggling to cope with the loss of your pet, please reach out to one of these resources. Although your grief is unique to you, you do not have to suffer through it alone.
If your pet is nearing the end of his or her life, you do not have to wait until after he or she has passed to start utilizing resources to help you through your pain. Everlife Memorials provides resources that can assist you through every stage of the loss process from knowing when it’s time to saying goodbye to your visit with your Peaceful Passing Veterinarian.
Children and Pet Loss
The loss of a pet is often the first experience a child has with losing a loved one. This link from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine gives some important tips on helping your children deal with the loss of a pet.
Children experience different levels of emotional and cognizant development at different ages, which means their ability to really understand the concept of death changes based on how old they are. According to Marty Tously, who works as a bereavement counselor, you can expect children under five not to fully grasp the permanence of death but might have some changes in behavior (like thumb sucking) because they can feel the trauma around them. Children over five, however, will have different reactions. Learn more about teaching your children about pet loss here.
Surviving Pet Grief
Humans are not the only ones to experience grief when losing a pet. If you have other animals in your home, you might notice that they exhibit signs of mourning after losing another pet. This article can help you assist your surviving pet(s) through the grieving process.