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Naperville Animal Hospital

The Loss Of A Pet And The Importance Of Grief Support

Owner Sitting with Dog at the Dock by the Lake

March 15, 2022

The bond between pet parent and much-loved furry family member can be one of the strongest felt in a lifetime.

When the time comes to say goodbye, the loss of a pet is felt so deeply, so deeply, in fact, that it takes many people by surprise. This grief can leave us struggling to overcome the emptiness inside on continue on with our normal routines.

Most of our most important memories include our pets. In fact, many of us see our pets as the constant source of companionship through childhood, college life, adulthood, marriage, divorce, and many other significant life events. Pets are the common thread that brings us a sense of home and comfort, belonging, and unbridled happiness.

So, when the inevitable time comes to say goodbye, there is understandable grief. We have the desire to honor the life of a beloved furry companion, and the love they have given us, as well as find support and resources to assist with adjusting to their loss.

Healing After the Loss of a Pet

No one among us has the same response to pet loss or requires the same support. However, after such a heartbreak, many of us do seek out ways to celebrate and remember a cherished family member’s pet, get support through encouraging articles about pet loss and grief, and find consolation and comfort in connecting with others who have lost a best friend.

Here are tools and recommendations for those who are struggling with recent pet death.

  • Consider creating a special memorial for your pet in the yard, such as in a flower garden or under a beautiful tree. Add a bench or a plaque with a favorite photo of your pet during his or her life.

  • Make a charitable donation to a shelter, rescue, or other animal nonprofit in honor of your best friend.

  • Reach out to others who have lost pets either through online forums or start a community-based pet loss support group.

  • If you have other pets, spend time with them. Many cats and dogs (and even rabbits and small mammals) feel the loss, too, and can actually go through their own grieving process.

  • Read articles about recovering from the death of a beloved pet. At our hospital, we have an assortment of online pet loss support resources, and we encourage you to use these for insight, solace, and healing.

  • Many people find exercise beneficial in elevating mood and decreasing isolation.

  • If you live alone, volunteering to snuggle cats or walk dogs at one of the many animal shelters can be a great way to also decrease loneliness while providing an important service.

  • If you like creative projects, you may enjoy putting together a scrapbook or collage of your pet’s photos over the years, and perhaps adding a paragraph or two about the memories that come to mind.

  • Online pet memorials, such as those found on our website, can also provide a sense of sharing and honoring.

  • And most importantly, share your time with friends and family – just being in the company of loved ones can make an incredible difference.

No matter what pathway to healing you find helpful, remember to be gentle with yourself. Losing a pet is tremendously difficult and time is your best ally in moving through the sadness.

If we can be of help in any way, we are here for you.