Your pet is a family member, and many pet owners would agree that a beloved cat’s or dog’s death can be as difficult as losing a human family member. When your pet has been your constant companion and shown you unconditional love for years, their absence can be felt in every part of your life, and the grief can feel unbearable. No perfect playbook is available for dealing with loss, and every pet owner mourns in their own way. Grieving and honoring your pet’s memory are important, and you should seek emotional support when you need it. Our team at Providence Vet shares tips to help you cope with losing a pet.

Pet loss grief is valid 

Some people can’t fully understand the pain of losing a beloved pet, especially if they have never had a pet or experienced the profound connection created through the human-animal bond. However, your grief is completely valid, and you naturally feel a profound sense of loss after your pet’s death. Give yourself permission to grieve openly and without shame. Your pet was a cherished family member, and you must be able to mourn their passing. Allow yourself to feel every emotion, and know that each is part of the healing process.

Seek pet loss support

While you may feel like isolating yourself, support from friends, family, and others who have experienced pet loss can give you comfort and help you heal. Support groups specifically for pet loss-related grief can also be beneficial by providing a space to express your emotions and receive support and validation from others going through a similar experience. A therapist or counselor who specializes in pet loss grief can help you navigate the complex emotions associated with pet loss and develop healthy coping strategies. Whatever your support network looks like, remember that reaching out for support exhibits strength. While grieving the loss of a pet is a deeply personal experience, having others’ support reminds you that you are not alone. 

Celebrate your pet’s life and your memories 

Celebrating your pet’s life and the memories you shared can help you express your grief in a healthy manner and find peace and healing amid the sadness. To honor your pet who has passed, consider these special pet memorial ideas:

  • Preserve your pet’s paw print — Preserve your pet’s paw print in salt dough for a tangible keepsake of your pet’s presence in your life. 
  • Host a memorial service for your pet — Gather friends and family to pay tribute to your pet’s life with a heartfelt memorial service. Reflect on the happy memories by sharing stories about your pet. Celebrating your pet’s life can help shift the focus from grief to gratitude.
  • Make a pet keepsake box — Preserve the memories of your pet by creating a keepsake box to hold special remembrance items such as their collar and leash, pawprint, favorite toy, and photographs. 
  • Design a piece of jewelry to remember your pet — Personalized pet memorial jewelry is a special way to always hold your pet close. You can incorporate your pet’s memory into jewelry in various ways such as:
    • A photograph or tuft of your pet’s fur in a locket
    • A memorial diamond made from their ashes
    • A small cremation vial on a necklace chain 
    • Engraving your pet’s name on a necklace or bracelet
  • Plant a memorial garden in your pet’s honor — Choose a special place in your yard, and plant a memorial garden to honor your pet’s memory. Plant flowers, shrubs, or trees that hold significance to you and your pet, and a personalized marker to commemorate their life. You can also scatter your pet’s ashes in the garden if their remains were cremated.
  • Donate in your pet’s name — Donate your time or money to an animal rescue or other meaningful organization to pay tribute to your pet and support other animals in need, leaving a lasting legacy of love and compassion.

Take care of yourself while grieving your pet’s loss 

Taking care of yourself while grieving the loss of your pet is essential for your emotional and physical well-being. Ensure you’re eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Whether you go for a brisk walk, practice yoga, or hit the gym, exercise provides a healthy outlet for releasing pent-up emotions and reducing body tension. Engage in activities that bring you comfort whether you are spending time outdoors, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or trying a new hobby. Taking care of yourself during this difficult time helps you navigate the grieving process with resilience and strength.

Making end-of-life care decisions and losing a pet are some of the most challenging experiences a pet owner can face. Remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to our Providence Vet team to discuss your pet’s end-of-life care or to receive pet loss grief resource recommendations.