The Very Real, Very Raw Grief of Losing a Pet

When speaking of the loss of a beloved pet, it’s easy to try and minimize the grief. Sometimes, people feel that their sadness isn’t justified. It was “just a pet” after all.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Pets are beloved members of our families, often spending a decade or more sharing their joy and unconditional love with us. Our pets are sometimes the only ones who have stood loyally beside us through life’s ups and downs. The loss of a pet is just that, a profound loss, and the grief is very real. If you are processing through the loss of a pet, here are a few strategies that people have shared that have helped them work through their grief.

Talk about your pet.

“I always love sharing my favorite memories and photos of them. People who ask about those are my favorite.” – Andi.

Talking about your pet and sharing happy memories about them can be a healing balm to our hurting hearts. If a loved one has lost a pet, don’t be afraid to bring it up. Acknowledge their grief and ask them if they would like to talk about their furry friend.

“I loved when people shared their favorite Dobby memories with me after he died this past August. In terms of gifts, a couple of days after Dobby died, I had a hair appointment with my long-time stylist. She listened to me talk about Dobby while doing my hair, then when I went to check out, she and the rest of the staff gave me a photo of him in a lovely frame. They had pulled the photo off my Facebook post and printed it ahead of time. It wasn’t an expensive gift but touched me deeply. I still have the photo out on a shelf.” – Kelley.

A small act of kindness goes a long way.

Know that you gave your pet a great life!

“Since the death of a pet often comes as the result of the decision to end their suffering, with that can come emotions of guilt. When this happens I always remind people that they gave their pet the very best life they could have hoped for: the animal wanted for nothing, was spoiled beyond reason, and was the luckiest critter in the world to be paired up with a human who adored them so much. I think it’s important for me to say that because it’s the validation and assurance that I’m looking for myself, to know that I did right by my pets and gave them a good life.” – Amanda.

The choice to end your pet’s suffering can be an agonizing one. Trust that you and/or your veterinarian made the best possible choice for your pet’s ultimate well-being, and rest in the knowledge that their suffering is over.

Acknowledge your grief.

The grief of losing a beloved pet is real, and it hurts. Don’t minimize your grief. Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that come with loss, without judging how quickly or slowly you are moving through the stages. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, so just let yourself ride it out. Do whatever you need to do to care for yourself during this challenging time. That might mean:

  • Taking time off of work or school.losing-a-pet
  • Spending time alone, or needing to be surrounded by friends.
  • Investing in self-care.
  • Getting counseling for your grief.

No matter what you need, or how much time it takes, don’t judge yourself or your feelings. Be gentle with yourself.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to be able to provide cremation and burial services for your treasured pets. Contact us today to learn more.