Grief and Losing a Pet
Pet loss is incredibly hard to go through, and no one should have to do it alone. That’s why we reached out to our Facebook fans for their best advice on coping with the passing of a pet or caring for a pet who is terminally ill. We hope that their touching experiences and heartfelt thoughts on grieving, memories and finding support can help others in their hour of need.

On Grieving

“I tend to grieve in my own way. For me, when a pet has died, I feel it deeply and intensely. I go into full mourning, and I let myself cry as often as I need to. I have found that reminiscing by talking about them, thinking about them and looking at old photos of them comforts me.” — Julianne Beam

“Just keep telling yourself that this horrible, gut-wrenching pain will fade a little bit with time. You will love and miss them always, and if you feel like crying, cry. Unfortunately, it’s part and parcel of being an animal lover.” — Isabelle Peens

“The simple acknowledgement of the loss, pain and grieving process is tantamount.” — Venice Rescue 2012

“Grieving the loss of your pet is a process, if they die on their own or you have to make the hardest decision to euthanize them. Letting them go is the last kind thing you can do for them, although they take a huge part of your heart when they go. Remember the heart they filled while they were with you.” — Simeone Moss

“Take time for self-care and don’t be afraid to cry. Releasing your emotions and accepting them and letting them run their course is healthy and necessary.” — Kelly Jackson

On the Last Moments

“It also helps when I am able to be with my pet during their final moments, to be able to actually say goodbye to them and then give them a proper burial in a special place that I can visit as I desire. My other animals are always of great comfort during the hardest of times as well. I’ve put pets to ‘sleep’ at the vet’s when I’ve had to (I won’t let a terminal animal live in extreme pain), and each time I have stood right there, loving and petting my animal as they take their last breath. It’s harder when it has to be done that way, but I find that no matter what the case, I am able to grieve easier when I can be with them in their last moments.” — Julianne Beam

“What helped me the most was a knowledgeable and caring vet who was readily available. What also helped me was simply thinking about what was best for the cat, instead of what was best for me. Euthanasia can be a very difficult decision to make, since it casts you in the role of God to some extent. Rather than seeing the situation as ‘killing my pet’ or ‘taking her life,’ I reframed the decision as ‘alleviating suffering and granting final peace’ — much easier to deal with. The vet handled the procedure at home, which was much less stressful than that final trip to the vet, and she did it so gently, while talking calmly to the pet, that I couldn’t help but think that this was just meant to be and the best possible way to die.” — Donna Reittinger

“I take in hospice cats from the shelter where I volunteer. It’s important to me to give a home to them, so that they won’t spend their last months in a shelter. I’m able to do this, because I never dwell on where we’re headed. Instead, I concentrate on making THIS day the very best I can for the cat. Lots of snuggling, spoiling and gentleness. And when release comes, I am there to hold them and send them on their way. Finally, I always imagine them over the Bridge, happy as only cats can be.” — Barbara Delassus

“I say, try to be there for them when they need you. Hold them close in their last moments and think about their comfort and not your breaking heart.” — Marilyn Cote Miller
Jax - Coping With Pet Loss

On Memories

“Love them, every second. The last few days before we helped our Jax go were the worst, but a month prior, we took him on his last big adventure: a 400-mile day trip around Michigan. And he had the best day. I am so glad we took the time out and just did it before it was too late. It’s almost a month since he passed, and we miss him every second.” — Heather Bauder

“If you have the choice, you don’t want your last memory of them to be that they are so bad they can no longer walk or enjoy the things they have. They should be able to exit with the grace of a high note. Sit and enjoy a special meal with you. Sit for a bit, loving on them and talking about all of their funny antics, their favorite pastimes; remind them how much they are loved. It’s definitely OK to cry, but let some of the tears be happy tears thinking of all of the wonderful memories you have. Also make a scrapbook or a collage of photos that means a lot to you. Keep a picture out that you can glance at when they pop into your head.” — Angela Oliver Burke

“I put together a photo album of our dog, Brynn, who passed away at age 4 due to lymphoma. We had 12 days with her from diagnosis until she passed away peacefully in our home, surrounded by all those who loved her. I love having the album, in which I wrote all the funny things she would do and memories together, to look back on now.” — Cassandra Kirkpatrick  

“Every time I lose an animal now, I make a custom photo album on one of the digital photo sites. A bound photographic memoir. It helps me work through my grief, and I can grab it whenever I want and remember my loved one.” — Becky Shulda

George - Coping With Pet Loss

On Welcoming a New Pet

“I had to have my previous dog put to sleep at the age of 6 due to bone cancer, totally unexpectedly. The only way I could cope with the loss was to get another dog straight away. I found a 2 1/2-year-old Boxer, who her owners couldn’t keep, and it took my mind off the pain. My previous dog has not been forgotten, but after two years’ absence and the lovely dog I have now, it helped me through that very difficult time. It might not work with others, but it certainly helped me.” — Maryse Acriviadis

“I was a fur baby foster mom, and when my own Babygirl passed away, I fostered a mama dog and her litter. I ended up adopting one of the puppies who didn’t find a forever home.” — Sharon Marr

On Support

“Find people who understand your pet was not ‘just a cat’ but a family member, or quite possibly your best friend. It’s only with those people that you can freely express the depth of your loss and grief and won’t hear things like, ‘she had a good life,’ and ‘she lived a long time.’ Both may be true, but however long the life, it will never be long enough. Don’t be afraid to cry, alone or with someone. Don’t let other people tell you how, or for how long, to grieve. Don’t feel as if you must go out and get another pet immediately, unless you are pretty sure it will help heal you (it wouldn’t be fair to the new pet if it turns out you’re not emotionally ready for a new one). Take care of yourself emotionally and physically — eat well, exercise, try to find things to make you laugh. And speaking only from my own experience, don’t think that not missing your pet just about every waking moment doesn’t mean that you are forgetting about them or that you love them any less. It just means that you’re going through a healthy grieving process where you have to not think about them every moment. Moving on with life is not leaving the pet behind, it’s just creating a necessary balance with your new normal.” — Diane Johnson

“Remind people to talk about it. Find someone, either family or a friend, even a stranger who has gone through it. It always helps to talk. Don’t immediately come home and put everything away that reminds you of them, especially if you have other pets. Pets grieve, too. Everyone needs the time to process their emotions." — Angela Oliver Burke

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