6 Steps to Help With Grief


The loss of a pet is a major life event.  After the death of a pet, many owners experience what psychologists call “disenfranchised grief”, the pain of a loss that’s not openly acknowledged or socially supported.  Subsequently, their grief can worsen into clinical depression and withdrawal.  While the majority of us feel grief at the loss of our pet, what incorporates that loss into our lives and softens the sadness is the act of mourning.  It is important to recognize that the feelings associated with the loss of a pet, such as sadness, disbelief, and anger are all normal.  Bottling up your feelings can lead to deep resentment and is stressful on the body, which can make you more vulnerable to illness.

Shakey 1997 - 2003

Celebrate the life of your beloved pet

Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.  A memorial service can provide a safe and comfortable environment for you and those close to your pet to share stories and openly express emotions.  Consider holding a small celebration of life ceremony at home.  From lighting candles to donating money to an organization that benefits animals, commemorate your pet’s life will help you say goodbye.

Ralph 2011

Don’t be shy; lean on your friends

About two-thirds of the people in your life will make you feel uncomfortable about the loss of your pet with poorly chosen comments like “You can always get another one” or “Just be glad you don’t have to take care of him anymore.”   It’s important to surround yourself with people who affirm and understand the significance of your pet in your life and support you.  Visit our Bereavement Support on our main page for help either on line or by calling a support help line.

Our Lassie 2013

Be conscious of your health

Emotional stressors take a great deal of energy from your body, causing many people to suffer from weakened immune systems and illnesses during grief.   While you may experience a loss of appetite and thirst or have trouble sleeping following the death of a pet, giving your body plenty of energy through food, water, and rest are important to staying healthy and feeling better emotionally.

Write your thoughts and feelings down on paper

Write about your feelings, either in a journal or a poem, essay, or short story.  This can be very therapeutic in nature and help to organize your thoughts.

Shelter Friends, Romulus and Remus

Consider taking time off from work

While many private sector employees get paid bereavement time off from work, that time rarely extends to the loss of a pet.  Still, you may need to take some time off of work to regain your sense of stability.  If your boss is a fellow pet owner, explain your situation to him or her, or simply take a personal or vacation day.

Fight your urge to get another pet

Fight off the instinct to get a new pet so you won’t miss the old one.   It’s important to only welcome a new pet into your home once you are ready to love it without comparison.  Each animal has her own unique personality and a new animal cannot replace the one you lost.

Mr. Petie Pie, 2003 - 2016, my hurricane Katrina rescue.

All of us at Pet Cremation Services of AR have traveled through our own pet loss journeys on many occasions.  Every journey has been different.  One of my favorite cards I received after losing my Mr. Petie Pie said, “Whatever soothes your spirit, comforts your soul and brings you peace…That’s what you are wished at this sad time.”  Marianne

Brindie 2001 - 2018