7 Ways to cope with the death of a pet

from www.onlinepsychologydegree.net

Pets are more than just animals — they’re family. And anyone who’s ever lost a pet knows it’s terribly heartbreaking. Whether it’s your first time to lose a pet or your third, it never really gets easier, only more familiar. Thankfully, there are many ways to ease the sorrow and help you recover from such a devastating loss. If you or someone you know is suffering from the loss of a pet, then take a minute to read these seven tips to help you cope and return to a more peaceful state of mind.

  1. Allow yourself to grieve:

    One of the most important things you have to remind yourself of following the loss of a pet is that it’s important and perfectly OK to grieve. Everyone grieves in different ways and for different periods of time. It may last a few days or a few years. Either way, it’s a completely personal experience that may require taking off work or spending some time alone to bounce back.

  2. Express your grief openly:

    A big part of the healing process is expressing your grief openly. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and memories. Holding it in will only make the grieving process more difficult and painful. This is especially important to remember when talking to your children about the loss of a pet. When explaining the situation, be sure to express your own grief and reassure your kids that it’s OK to be sad and that you also feel the same way.

  3. Spend time with your surviving pet:

    Spending time with your surviving pet can help you cope with grief and ease the pain of losing an animal. Surviving pets may need a lot of TLC at this time because they are also affected by the loss. Even if they weren’t close, your surviving pet may whimper and act lethargic because they are distressed by the sudden changes. Comfort your surviving pet and try to create a positive emotional state within the home.

  4. Do something in your pet’s memory:

    Whether it’s spending time at the park where you used to walk your dog, volunteering at an animal shelter, or making a donation in your pet’s memory, these special moments can help you turn a painful situation into a positive one. If you like to write, paint, or make music, you can dedicate it to your beloved pet.

  5. Keep a journal:

    Keeping a journal is one of the best things you can do to record your feelings, thoughts, and memories about your pet and keep track of your grieving process. Doing so will help you work through the grief and make sense of the things happening around you.

  6. Memorialize your pet:

    Memorializing your pet can help you overcome your loss and remember the good times you had together. You can have a memorial for your pet in private or with the company of friends and family. Some people write a letter to their pet or create a photo album and leave it by an urn or their pet’s burial spot. You can memorialize your pet on his or her birthday or anytime you feel like reminiscing.

  7. Seek support:

    Many people have been in your exact shoes and know what it’s like to lose a beloved pet. Seeking support is a healthy and encouraged way to cope with the death of a pet. There are many forms of support available to grieving pet owners, including pet-loss support hotlines, pet bereavement counseling services, and online support groups with chat rooms and message boards where people can tell their story and share comforting words. Support can also come from friends and family who knew your pet and can help you hold on to the good memories.

27 Responses to “7 Ways to cope with the death of a pet”

  1. Dog Urn says:

    Fantastic blog !!

  2. Linda says:

    My heart physically aches after losing my bunny this weekend. Hopefully posting a comment on this will move me further down the timeline of recovery, but right now nothing seems possible. Her death makes me feel so irresponsible as her guardian since it was an uncontrollable family dog that never would acclimate to her. She pushed the pen open as I was getting ready to bring bunny in for the evening, and rushed to her before I could get there. My heart is in pain with each beat. Also, I can’t blame the dog since that’s her nature living in the country and that environment. Oh well…, Rest in Peace my sweet bunny girl. I will miss you immensely and pray that you will release me from this guilt plague of pain. Love to you…..

  3. Molly says:

    My beautiful, healthy 8 1/2 year old boy Latte died five weeks ago yesterday. I ordered from the monthly service KitNipBox. One of the toys in the box was a streamer wand toy. Somehow Latte got a hold of it and ate the streamers off. I rushed him to the vet where they tried to get him to throw up the material, but when he wouldn’t it was decided he had to have surgery. He died shortly after. I feel so guilty for letting that toy in my home, and not recognizing immediately how dangerous it could be. I don’t sleep, and all I do is cry. I miss my sweet boy so much. We were incredibly close. He slept every night to the left of my head, and I often woke up with his paw on my face or my head. Latte was the sweetest boy ever, and his last 6 hours on this earth were spent being poked and prodded and he was terrified out of his mind. He died alone, and in a cage. He deserved so much better. I am devastated and traumatized by this.

    • Marisol says:

      Molly, it wasn’t your fault. Lattie knows that, too. You cared enough to try to help him but it was
      just not to be. I lost my beloved dog four days after you lost yours. I know the heartbreak.
      I now tell people to tell their pets that they love them, out loud, every day many times a day.
      Please feel better in your own time.

      ~Marisol

      • Beth says:

        Molly,
        Your devastation is understandable. It’s not your fault. Blame the vets who insisted on surgery. The streamers would have passed through Lattie’s system.
        Writing this helps my loss. I want to tell you what Marisol said. And I need to tell myself the same thing.
        What a profound loss these loving companions are.
        Beth

  4. marjiscott says:

    Dec. 28th, 2015
    Today we had to take in our wonderful cat, Ashley, to be put to sleep.. Otherwise known as El Gato. We ended up shortening her name after a while to just plain Gato, even though she was a girl. People would ask why we called her that, and I would reply, “Well, I guess she thinks she is a boy”.
    Gato was a purebred Korat, who we found in front of one of my husbands worksites, lying on the sidewalk meowing pitifully for someone to please stop and help her. How she got there, we have never been able to solve. She had a liter of kittens (we couldn’t find them, the Animal Control had taken them earlier) Gato had been starving on the street for a long time, even while she had nursed her kittens. It took all her strength to feed them even at the expense of herself. When my husband tried to come back to take her home, it turned out the Animal Control had found her first and taken her to a ” kill “shelter. At mad rush followed, trying to get her before they euthanized her. We found her in time. That was eleven years ago.The Vet at the Shelter told us she was approximately a year and a half old, and was so malnourished, and weak, she had only perhaps a couple of days left outside. She was too weak to stand. She was literally just bones and fur. They treated her for several days with IV’s and lots of food, which she ate with great gusto. When we took her home, she had a bed in out small apartment bathroom with lots of thick bedding , and a box nearby . Later on, she slept with my husband every night. She recovered over time,, and to our surprise, was quite the clown cat. She had a great sense of humor. She was always looking for that extra food though, and grew to be at sixteen pounder. A vet supervised medically appropriate diet resulted, but apparently was too late for our Gato. She passed from inoperable, untreatable cardiomyopathy at age 12 today.There was nothing we could do for her. Our home is so quiet tonight. So empty. Some day, we will probably get another animal. Sometimes animals just come into your life when you least expect them too. For our and theirs’ mutual benefit.

    • We are so sorry for your loss. It is so sad to lose such a special pet. We have some bereavement resources on our website if you need them.
      There are lots of people out there who want to listen and help – they’ve been through the same thing and totally understand your pain.
      Go to: http://www.animalhealthfoundation.net/how-we-help/pet-loss-bereavement.html

      It helps to write about it and talk about. Also, for a small donation, you can post a memorial on our site for Gato, with pictures, etc. You can also send a link to friends.
      Time will soothe, but it’s still very hard.
      Our thoughts are with you at this time.

      Pam

  5. Lisa Szarek says:

    My 16 yr old furbaby passed over The Rainbow Bridge 03/05/2016. She was diagnosed with liver carcinoma. After looking in her beautiful brown eyes, I didn’t have the heart to end her life prematurely and because she wasn’t in any pain or stress, decided on allowing her to pass naturally at home surrounding by everything shew knew and loved. I read several articles about what to expect and knew it wasn’t going to be an easy experience. Almost everything I read came to pass except for the two seizures she had at the end. The first seizure lasted about 5 minutes and she recovered somewhat from it but the 2nd seizure that came a fews hours later lasted about 25 minutes but felt like forever and totally freaked me out. It made me regret my decision to allow a “peaceful” passing at home because, from what I was seeing, it was anything but. Needless to say, she never recovered from that 2nd seizure. To this day I feel as though I let her down and made the wrong decision. I think about the pain, confusion and fear she must have felt and I will never forgive myself. I cry almost everyday not only for the loss of my closest and best friend but for the regret of not allowing a peaceful passing through euthanasia. I will never make that mistake again.
    Forever missing my beautiful girl. I love you Marbles. R.I.P beautiful. ?

    • Lucy says:

      Dear Lisa,
      I lost my little kitty Sunshine on June 15 this year. She was only 11 years old.
      I feel your pain. I, too, feel I left her longer than I should have and I felt guilty. She had been bleeding from the rectum. There were decisions to be made about treatment, etc. I finally had a sonogram done and she was diagnosed with a tumor on her bowel. I decided to put her to sleep the very next day. The three Vets that were involved with the process all confirmed I was making the right decision.

      To help ease my guilty feeling I tell myself those extra days were very special because we got to spend a little more time together. And it was the sweetest days we ever shared together.

      Be at peace, you did not know she was in pain or knew she would have seizures. I have a seizure disorder along with a chronic illness. No one could predict my seizures. It was no one’s fault that I had them. With your kitty, you did not know. So try to reflect on the love you had for each other and the happiness you shared together.

      • LeeAnn says:

        I am soooo sorry for your loss. I just had to put down my beloved cat, Biscuit four HOURS ago. He was obese and developed fuild around his heart. He was 11 years old too. And my constant companion. My ex-husband found him 11 years ago to this day. He was about 4 weeks old and half dead. I didn’t expect him to live through that first night. But he did. I had other cats at the time and they all rejected him and tried to hurt him. But he persevered. I loved him with all my heart for 11 years. Maybe I loved him TOO much. I let him eat whatever he wanted. I know now that that was his undoing. Today I held him while he died. I feel so alone now. My heart goes out to you.

    • Beth says:

      Wow Lisa,
      You have no idea how much this just helped me with my own grief for my 12 year-old cocker. I tried every cure for her diarrhea, 3.5 months of cleaning up and hoping. I couldn’t put her to sleep because she was acting lively and happy! I had her sleeping in the garage and would just hose it down in the morning. Kidney failure, tumors…I thought, “I’ll keep her to the very end, she’ll pass right here at home,” just as you thought Lisa. Now, reading your thoughts, I feel that maybe I made the right decision.
      Is there any right way to death?
      Thank you for sharing your feelings.
      Beth

    • mark b. says:

      Hello Lisa,
      I am pulling my heart apart trying to decide about putting our 13yo boxer mix to sleep. Our vet strongly recommends it. They found two tumors one on his spleen and had to drain a lot of blood from near his heart in order for him to lie down without discomfort. the vet said the blood will build up again and he may have another seizure.
      i am going through the same debate in my head for two days now on what to do. he seems at ease now but i know it won’t last long. i don’t know how to say goodbye and make that hard decision. i feel for you but you made the best decision for you at that time. we never know what is going to happen. i don’t want to regret my decision whatever it is going to be.

  6. chelsea says:

    Last friday my beloved bordercollie Sara seemed a little strange. She was breathing a little fast and moaned a bit and for the first time in her life she didnt want to go on a walk. Then on saturday and sunday she barely got up from her bed. We had made an appointment to take her into the vet but they couldnt get her in till that wednesdaY She seemed a little better on monday, but that night she moaned all night and the next morning she couldnt walk and we rushed her to an emergency vet. She had a malignant tumor in her abdomen that had bled, it turned out that the cancer attacked her red blood cells and platelets so her blood wouldnt clot. They could not even operate on her because her blood was so weak and it was highly unlikely she would even survive. And if she did she would have only lived a couple months and would have been in pain. We had to put her to sleep. I am absolutely devastated. She was only ten years old and she was well taken care of and had never had health problems. I feel like she was taken way too soon and everything happened so fast. On friday something seemed wrong, and then on Tuesday she was dead. I miss her so much i hate to be in my house because it feels so empty without her. I feel like its a bad dream that I am going to wake up from. but then I am reminded that its real. Im mad because I thought I had more time with her.. And I feel guilty because I had no idea she was so sick and maybe if i had paid better attention she might still be here. She was the sweetest dog ever and she was so beautiful inside and out and it breaks my heart that she had to endure that pain and suffering. Before she was put down we got to say goodbye and the poor thing could barely breathe and her eyes were all droopy. After they gave her the shot she was gone within fifteen seconds. My last look at her is haunting me and i cant get it out of my mind. I loved her so much and I hope one day I can feel whole again.

    • We are very sorry to hear about Sara. It’s very hard to lose one of our furry family.
      Unfortunately, I experienced a similar quick loss as did a friend of mine recently. Both died of a hemoangiosarcoma. The veterinarians on our board told me that it is called “the silent killer of dogs”. You don’t know about it until it’s too late.
      You can’t blame yourself. We have pet loss bereavement sources on our website who will be able to help you get through this.
      We also have a memorial section on our website. that helped me a lot.

      Hang in there. We are so sad for your loss.

    • Beth says:

      Chelsea,
      This is so powerful. So shocking. So sudden. How could you know she was sick if there were no signs?
      I’m going through the same thing right now and hope that someday I too can feel whole again. I go to the end of my driveway to take a walk, but why? Why walk without my beautiful English Cocker Spaniel who was my companion for 12 years? The house is so empty. And then the plaguing questions, “Why wasn’t I more patient? Why didn’t I take her to the park more? Why? Why? Why?
      Oh dear…
      Beth

    • LV says:

      Chelsea,
      Your story could be my story, word for word! My family endured this same pain yesterday. I miss him so much. There’s comfort in knowing that our family is not the only family suffering from a situation like this. May our days become easier to cope with as time passes.

  7. Rick Rod says:

    June 27, 2016. 2pm
    Peanut my Pit Went to sleep. She lived to 14 years 6 months
    She beat cancer, healed and came back like a soldier and lived another 6 months and 2 weeks. Today’s blood work (6/27/16)Her red and white cells were low, she had a probable infection, her sugar count was very low and she was anemic. The cancer didn’t show up on the X-rays last week but with her breathing and blood work it seemed obvious that the cancer was back although the cancer didn’t present itself; it was very sneaky. In the office today, she was in the wagon and didn’t move at all although she seemed to enjoy a bit of water that my son Nick gave her in drips by hand. Last night and this am She was too weak to walk, not eating or drinking and vomiting even the water. She couldn’t even get up the last night and even peed herself. The only unselfish thing to do–and the hardest–was to let her rest. The only option presented which could POSSIBLY help would be a transfusion. And IF it worked, it would only buy her from a day to a week. My best friend of almost 15 years, left us today. She went out like a champ. I can’t imagine ever finding a friend like her; she was a dog like no other. I want to thank all FB friends for the loving caring I and she have received over the past year. It feels like Peanut had Facebook friends too. They followed her story and progress and always wished me and her well. She lived a happy full life and it would have been cruel to make her go on like that, just so I could be able to pet her. Not fair. It hurts like hell; so bad. I have cried and cried and was lucky to have my son help me through this. I wanted to let my family and friends know and I appreciate all good thoughts in advance, but I hope y’all understand if I don’t reply right away. I need some time. Thanks. 7/2/16 Today I picked up Peanuts ashes. They put her in a beautiful cherry-wood urn and sent literature about grieving. That is how I found this website. It helps to read others thoughts and I hope mine may help others. It is over a week now, and i still cry everyday. I am a big old man but feel like a little lost boy. How long will this go on? It hurts so bad?

  8. AL says:

    My cat after 20 years has died today. She barley could hold on through the 4th of July.
    We had brought her home as baby 20 years ago almost to the exact day.
    She could barely walk last night or breath . I feel like I have lost my best friend.
    She was my first pet., Her name was Dinah I lite a candle for her. The vet said she was going down hill fast and she would not be able to operate on her sinuses, because of her being a Persian.
    We had her cremated so we can keep her ashes with us always even though she is in my heart.
    Its devastating.She was put down this morning she only weighed 3 lbs she was a beautiful Persian Himalayan . I can’t find anyone to talk to I am deeply hurting. I think it hurts me worse now that I am sick I suffer from diabetes myself. My cat’s death is making it harder on me Stress wise. My mother even said I am taking this harder then she would have thought. I can’t even think about another pet right now hurts to much. And no one will take D’s place.

  9. Deb says:

    I had my 11 1/2 year old Westie, Pippin, put down today. I was not ready for this and truly hoped the vet could make comfortable for a while longer. I am so sad and feel like there is little point to my life now.

    • Matt says:

      Sorry for your loss Deb but there is a point, and a purpose, to your life and that point is to continue the journey to become the person that your pet always thought you were.

      Right now my wife and I are grieving the loss of our cocker spaniel that we rescued off the streets nine years ago. It’s really tough but Pippin’s energy is still there even though you can’t see it. Be strong.

  10. Hayley Reed says:

    I really needed this. I just lost my puppy on Sunday, June 24, 2016. I’ve never experienced that type of love, so the type of pain I feel is indescribable. I’m going to have a memorial for him once his remains come back. Thanks for this.

  11. Ron Sligh says:

    On Monday 8-29 we lost the best friend we could ever have. His name is Gunny. He was a rescue bird. He was my butthead as i was his. He had a very hard life before we got him but when we got him he knew what love was. He had health problems since before we got him but he was a very happy boy. The last 2 years of his life he had seizures but was still a happy boy that faught like a soldier. The last seizure made us have to make the hardest choice we have ever made. We signed the paper work to put him down. We got to see him one last time and as my wife held him we gave him kisses and beak rubs. As she held him he passed. I know the pain all to well that these people feel. My heart goes out to you all and im sorry for all of your loses. Thank you for this

  12. Jennifer says:

    We said goodbye to our most loyal and loved lab Madison last night. She was 13.5 years old, she got sick about 3 weeks ago and never fully recovered, many trips to the vet, antibiotics and cough medicine. When she got worse and stopped eating we knew something else was wrong. After an ultrasound and x-rays, we were told she had cancer of the liver which has spread to her lungs. We made the decision to end her suffering and called the vet to come to our house for the procedure yo put her out of pain. My heart is breaking, I miss her so much.I wish I could post a picture of her, but I don’t know how. I miss you so much Madison, rest in peace my baby girl. I love you.

    • We are so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to post pictures on our blog. We do have a memorial program on our website http://www.animalhealthfoundation.org and, for as little as a $10 donation, you can post pictures, write her story and share it with friends. There’s evan a guestbook.

      We also have a Pet Loss and Bereavement section on the site in case you need to have someone help you through this tough, tough time.

      RIP sweet Madison.

  13. mark b. says:

    we found out yesterday that our 13yo boxer mix has two tumors, one one the spleen and had to have blood drained from around his heart. the vet recommends strongly that we put him to sleep in the next few days.
    I am totally heart broken and don’t know how I can say goodbye to my best friend. my wife and i do not have kids so he was my best friend, part of our family and someone i never wanted to think about living without.

    i know the right thing is to do this before he gets sicker and something ruptures. my heart is broken and i don’t know how to cope.

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