When It’s Time To Say Goodbye: Coping With Pet Loss

Woman's hand holding dog's pawVery little can compare with the deep sadness that accompanies the loss of a cherished pet. Whether we’ve raised them from babyhood, or were fortunate enough to welcome an older pet into our hearts and homes, the loss of that familiar face, mannerisms, and personality is often one of the most deeply devastating experiences we will face.

Sadly, our society generally doesn’t take the trauma and grief associated with pet loss as seriously as it should, and as a result many pet owners don’t give themselves the time and space to truly mourn the passing of such a special friend. At Mountainview Veterinary Hospital, we have found that taking the time to honor your pet in a way that is meaningful to you, as well as seeking support and resources as needed, can assist you and your family in adjusting to your new normal.

Healing After Pet Loss

Although you will never “get over” the loss of a pet, there are ways to support yourself and your family as move through your grief. Our extensive experience in helping pet owners has led us to believe that certain ideas can be particularly helpful, and we’d be honored to pass that knowledge on to you.

  • Remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and that’s it’s ok to feel a wide range of emotions such as deep sadness, anger, guilt, or denial.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to trusted family, friends, or members of your community who have recently lost a pet for support and comfort.
  • If it feels right to you, seek out one of the many local and national pet bereavement support groups.
  • Mountainview Veterinary Hospital offers an array of resources in our pet loss library, or light a virtual candle in memory of your pet on our website.

Honoring Your Pet

Many pet owners take great comfort in memorializing their pets in a tangible way. Although only you will know what is appropriate in your situation, allow us to make a few suggestions:

  • Frame a wonderful photograph of your pet and hang it in a place of honor in your home.
  • Share funny and touching stories about your pet with others who knew them.
  • Hold a memorial service for your pet, invite family and friends who were close to your pet and prepare a short speech in memory of your pet.
  • Plant a memorial garden full of pet-friendly plants in your pet’s honor.
  • Create a scrapbook or memory box dedicated to your pet, include favorite photos, stories, and meaningful objects.
  • Send a card to someone you know who has lost a pet in the past year, you’ll both benefit from the little dose of well wishes.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue group, or make a donation in your pet’s name. When you are ready, return to that shelter to adopt your next pet.

Please accept our condolences at the loss of your pet. Your friends at Mountainview Veterinary Hospital are here to support you in any way we can during this difficult time.