Coping with the Loss of a Pet
What to do when you lose your best friend.
Grieving the loss of a pet can be as emotional as grieving the loss of any friend or companion in your life, so take time to acknowledge the emotions that surface with the loss of your pet. Expect to go through different stages of grief, including denial, anger, guilt, pain and depression. Knowing what to expect may not make the process easier or the recovery faster, but it can help reassure you that you’re on your way to healing.
Selecting a burial place
One of the first decisions you'll need to make after your pet dies is where he will be buried. Some people choose their own backyard; others opt for a dedicated pet cemetery. Cremation provides other options, too—like storing the ashes in a decorative container or even inside specially designed jewelry.
Connecting with others
During your grieving process you may need more than just the support of family and friends, and finding someone who has experienced a similar loss can be invaluable. Look online for support groups. Or try an online discussion forum to find people who share your experience.
You may find that helping others helps you to heal. Try volunteering at an animal shelter or fostering a puppy that will later be trained as a service dog.
If the tables turn and you find yourself consoling someone whose pet has died, simply listen and offer your condolences. If you’re looking to extend another gesture, send a floral arrangement and sympathy card or make a donation in the late pet's name to a charitable organization.
Remembering your pet
Creating a scrapbook, framing a photo or filling a memory box with mementos are great ways to memorialize your pet. You may also find healing in writing a letter to your pet, too.
In time, you may decide to open your home to another pet. If you do, the affection you feel for your new companion will be accompanied by precious memories of the one you lost—and that can be a comfort all its own.