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Coping with Grief for a Pet

Pets bring joy, unconditional love, and companionship to many individuals, whether it is a pet for a family or just for a single person. For many, pets are more than just animals: They are cherished family members and loyal friends. This is why the loss of a pet can be so profound. They leave a large void in many peoples lives when they pass. Studies have demonstrated that losing a pet can be as emotionally painful as losing a fellow human being, especially for individuals who live by themselves (Paul W, Wong et al. OMEGA, 2015 Oct; Michelle, Clearly et al. Death Stud, 2021 Apr).

While losing a pet can be emotionally rough, here are some ways to help with the grieving process of losing a pet:


1.) Allow yourself to grieve

Allow yourself time to be alone. Also, feel free to cry. Take time to be alone with yourself and permit yourself to cry. It is also common for pet owners to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some of these stages may be more intense than others depending on whether the pet passes away due to natural causes vs if the pet had to be euthanized. One way to help with the anger and sadness of this process is to try to acknowledge that you gave your pet a different path than what they may have gone for like never being adopted or getting left out on the streets. During this time, try to practice self-compassion (Cory, Bussolari et al. OMEGA, 2021 Feb ; Rachel M, Park et al. JAAWS, 2021 June). Many platforms, like the Aura App and YouTube, have self-compassion exercises.


2.) Share your emotions with others

While it is acceptable to grieve by yourself initially, you may also reach out to other people. If it was a family pet, grieve with your family. Also, reach out to friends, especially pet owners. There are even support groups to share your sorrows with other pet owners like support groups through the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and Everlife Support Groups ( (T Melissa, Holcombe et al. J Hum Behav Soc Environ, 2016 Jan; Rachel M, Park et al. JAAWS, 2021 June). Religious communities can also be great for individuals who are part of them. Some religious communities will host special ceremonies for the passing of pets (Lilian, Tzivian, Friger, and Kushner Death Stud, 2011 Sept; Paul W, Wong et al. OMEGA, 2015 Oct; Rachel M, Park et al. JAAWS, 2021 June).


3.) Create a memory tribute

Creating a memory tribute can aid in helping one recall positive memories about their pet long after passing. One common way to make a memory tribute is by cremating their pets. Some veterinarian clinics partner with a local 

cremation shop to do this. Some veterinarian clinics even give one an urn for the ashes

(; Rachel M, Park et al. JAAWS, 2021 June). One can even purchase a unique urn. People may also want to spread the pet's ashes around the yard or to areas the pet enjoyed the most (Helen, Davis et al. Anthrozoös, 2003 March). Other ways that one can remember their pet are, but are not limited to, posting pictures of their pet on social media or around one's house, keeping the pet's toys and belongings in a box, or planting a memorial shrub or tree (


4.) Seek Professional Help

Remember, one can also reach out to a local therapist. As mentioned in point #2, there are also hotlines that one can utilize, like The Pet Commission Careline or Lap of Faith ( Your local therapist, especially one specializing in grief, can also be a valuable tool to come to terms with their pet's

passing (Rachel M, Park et al. JAAWS, 2021 June).


Losing a pet is a hurtful experience. This is a testament to how deep our bonds with our animal companions can go. As we grieve, it's essential to acknowledge and honor your feelings, seek support from loved ones and professionals, and find ways to memorialize the impact of your pet on your life.

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