It’s natural to hurt and cry. It’s natural to feel lost and scared. Just remember that you have that pet love and they loved you. Focus on the best memories and don’t forget them.
Losing a pet is an incredibly difficult time, whether it is an expected passing or a sudden one. If your pet had an ongoing illness you may already have a plan in place, but life never runs smoothly. Anyone struggling with the grief of losing a pet can speak to their veterinarian for advice and lean on friends and relatives for support.
An expected passing
Your pet may have a long-term illness or have suffered an accident that there are few treatment options for. No doubt you will have discussed the possibility that euthanasia may be the kindest option. In this case, your veterinarian will talk you through the entire process, so you will know each step and what to expect.
You will be able to spend a few moments with your pet to say goodbye before the veterinary team delivers drugs that will place your pet into a gentle sleep before they pass away. The procedure is painless, just like laying down to take a nap.
The surgery can arrange for cremation if that is your preferred option and you will be able to collect your pet’s ashes to scatter them or keep them at home. Cremation is more expensive than other options, however, you can opt to have some of your pet’s ashes stored in a piece of jewelry or a keepsake.
Alternatively, your local vet can help to organize a burial at a pet cemetery. You may be able to bury your pet at home, provided you own it. It is illegal to bury an animal on land you do not own or in a public place.
A sudden passing
If your pet’s passing was unexpected you probably have a lot of questions and will be feeling quite overwhelmed. This is perfectly understandable. Write down any questions you have and give them to your veterinarian. They are well placed to give you advice and support.
It can be difficult not having the chance to say goodbye, but a sudden loss means your pet will not be suffering.
Dealing with grief
Creating a memorial is a wonderful way of remembering your pet to say goodbye and to create a place where you can go whenever you are missing them. Your memorial could be planting a flower bed or tree, reciting a poem or leaving flowers at a spot on your pet’s favorite walk.
Choose one or two of your favorite photographs and have them printed and framed by a photography company. This will give you something to keep in the home to remind you of your beloved pet.
Contact your local pet bereavement service. Many animal charities have such services or you can search online. There are also lots of wonderful, supportive social media forums for people who have experienced similar losses where you can talk and share your feelings. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed asking for help. Grief is a difficult process and you should not do it alone.
Take some time to grieve your pet before considering getting a new one. Having that empty space in your life may feel strange at first, but you should be sure that you have recovered from your loss before bringing a new pet into your life.
Why is losing a pet so painful?
Most people who have never owned a pet may wonder why pet owners react with such grief when they lose their pets. The fact is that pets are not just pets, they are a deeply loved member of the family.
Research into the psychological effects of pet loss have shown that losing a dog or cat is comparable to losing a close friend or relative. The feelings of grief, loss and sadness are just as strong.
The difficulty with losing a pet is that there is no formal ceremony to say goodbye or gravestone to visit, so it can be more emotionally draining than the loss of a person.
What does the Bible say about losing a pet?
The bible has many passages regarding the loss of a pet. Psalm 22:24 talks about the love God has for all life.
Luke 12:6 talks about God’s love more directly. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. He remembers every animal, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
Reading the Bible verses about pet loss and grief can provide a sense of comfort and understanding for anyone suffering the loss of a pet.
Do pets know you love them?
There is strong debate around the ability of pets to feel emotions such as love. The truth is that pets are capable of forming incredibly close bonds with their owners and close family.
They are keenly aware of our absence and get excited when we return to them. It is clear that pets know we have strong feelings for them and it is comforting to understand this as love.
My pet died and I can’t get over it
Grieving for a pet can be an incredibly difficult process and some people struggle to get past the feeling of loss. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make this an easier time.
It is becoming increasingly common to hold memorial services for pets who have passed. This could involve scattering their ashes at their favorite walking spot or planting a tree in their memory.
There are lots of companies who will create paintings or portraits of pets so owners have something to keep. A beautiful painting or a stenciled blanket can be treasured for decades.
Speak to a professional or join online support groups. It can be helpful to share your experience with other pet owners who have also lost a pet. They understand what you are going through and can share their own experiences of dealing with grief.
Pet loss quotes
‘The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be’ – Konrad Lorenz.
‘Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim’ – Vicki Harrison.
‘If there ever comes a day when we cannot be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever’ – Winnie the Pooh.