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  • Writer's pictureGrief Specialists

Pet Loss: Why the Grief You Feel is Valid

The bond between pets and owners is often deeply emotional

Pet Loss: Why the Grief You Feel is Valid

Pets hold a special place in our hearts, offering unconditional love, companionship, and a sense of comfort. When we lose a pet, the pain and grief can feel overwhelming.

Please know this is a normal reaction to loss, especially as the bond we have with our pets can be strong ones. We share our lives and homes with them, and when they’re no longer around, it can leave a huge void.

In fact, the strength of feelings you might experience could feel unexpected and the time after they’ve gone can feel especially challenging.

Understanding the Grieving Process

Losing a pet can evoke a range of intense emotions such as sadness, guilt, and even anger. After your pet has died, you might wonder if you'd done enough, you might feel guilty at taking the final decision for them to be put to sleep, or if it’s a sudden loss, such as bloat, or your put getting run over, you might experience guilt for them eating too quickly, or running into the road.

You might feel anger towards the part someone else played in their death, or anger that they’ve gone too soon. These are all normal reactions to loss.

While the grieving process for a pet may share similarities with grieving the loss of a human loved one, the nuances and dynamics involved can differ greatly. The bond between a pet and their owner is often unique and deeply emotional.

Pets can provide unconditional love, companionship, and support, and their loss can leave a significant void in your life.

Pets are often deeply integrated into your daily routine, providing companionship, structure, and a sense of purpose. The loss of a pet can disrupt this routine and leave you feeling lost or unsure of how to move forward.

Despite the strong emotional attachment many people have to their pets, there can still be a stigma surrounding pet loss, with some dismissing or minimising the grieving process, and questioning why you’re so sad, as ‘it’s only a dog’ and you can buy another one. This can make it feel challenging to share your feelings of grief and seek support, as it’s ‘not as bad as losing a person’.

Acknowledging Pet Loss

While society may not always recognise the impact of pet loss, it is important for you to acknowledge the significance of your loss and not ignore or dismiss your grief.

Validating and accepting our feelings as we mourn the loss of a pet is an essential step towards healing.

Finding Support During the Grieving Process

Seeking support from people who understand the unique pain of pet loss can be really helpful. Pet loss support groups or online forums provide a safe space to share experiences, connect with others going through similar situations, and gain support and understanding.

Coping Strategies for Grieving Pet Owners

While managing the emotional turmoil after the loss of a pet, there are some healthy coping mechanisms you can use.

Journaling or writing about the pet, or even writing a letter to the pet to thank them for what they brought to your life allows for the expression of emotions and memories. Creating a memorial or tribute, like a photo album or a dedicated area in the home, can help you remember your pet's life.

Engaging in self-care activities, such as spending time in nature or practising mindfulness, promotes emotional well-being, too.

Moving Forward

Rushing out to replace your loss with another pet is often not the answer. While it might bring you some company, it’s inevitable that the replacement pet won’t be the same - they all have their own personalities, and you can end up comparing, and even resenting the new pet for not being the same as the one who has died.

Remember, it is okay to grieve, and there is help available for you if you’re feeling stuck or finding it hard to cope. Many of our grief specialists provide professional support after pet loss. There is no judgement, your feelings will be validated, and you will be given the help to move beyond your pain.


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