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Pet Loss - The Silent Grief

In my groups we discuss pets a lot. I have always allowed space for my clients and their pets. Pets are an amazing source of comfort to so many. Of course and they don't talk back!! I have watched many of my clients grieve the loss of their pets. This is a process like no other. The stages of grief, which it turns out, are NOT LINEAR, will help to guide us, but there's so much more. The loss can last a day a week or a year. The entire family is effected. You cannot replace a beloved pet. In some cases, I've noted, pets receive better care than humans do.

More and more people ask me for letters of support for a pet providing emotional wellness. I am happy to do that for people with whom I work. Kids going off to college have even asked me for an emotional support Guinea pig. Why not? My husband told me he had a dog during college that went off leash and followed him around to his classes. I currently have 3 pets and it's a lot of work; but they have given me such joy. My neighbor's dog suddenly passed away last week. All we can say is that loss is loss. There's no easy way to get through it but to go through it. Pets came way before therapy and they'll probably sustain us long after AI has taken our jobs! So allow your family and clients to do whatever they need to for the short-term. In fact, here's what Google AI says about dealing with it:

Some other reasons why losing a pet can be hard include:

  • Isolation Grieving the loss of a pet can feel isolating because it's considered a disenfranchised grief in today's society. Comments like "It's just a dog" or "Are you going to get another cat" can feel hurtful.

  • Depression It's normal to feel a sinking feeling of depression after losing a pet, but it can be detrimental if the depression doesn't subside after several months.

  • Difficulty concentrating You might have trouble focusing and concentrating on tasks, which can lead to forgetting things, misplacing things, or feeling like you have no energy to think.

  • Guilt You might feel guilty for having to euthanize a pet, or if your pet died a natural death, you might think you should have had them euthanized to prevent suffering.

  • Anger You might feel angry at the vet, at yourself, or even at your pet for leaving you. 

And here's more practical advise from the Humane Society: (

Reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear. Do a little research online, and you'll find hundreds of resources and support groups that may be helpful to you. Some of these include:

The Pet Compassion Careline, which provides 24/7 grief support with trained pet grief counselors.

Lap of Love, which provides grief courses and 50-minute one-on-one support sessions with a grief counselor.

Everlife Support Groups by state.

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement support groups, available at specific times throughout the week.

If you are part of a congregation, ask if your place of worship offers bereavement support for pet loss.

Memorialize your pet through a bereavement ritual. You might:

Spread your pet’s ashes somewhere special, or reserve a place in your home for your pet’s ashes and photos of your pet.

Plant a native tree or flowering shrub in memory of your pet.

Create a memory box with your pet’s collar or favorite toys.

Purchase a product that incorporates your pet’s ashes into a memorial necklace, bracelet, ring or suncatcher. (Search “pet cremation jewelry.”)

Commission a painting, statue, memorial stone or plush animal representation of your pet. (Search “pet memorial” on for a wide range of options at all price points.)

Write about your feelings, or write a letter to your pet about all the things you’d like to say to them or how you’d have liked to spend your last day with them.

Write an obituary for your pet.

Share photos and memories of your pet via social media.

People and pets are inseparable and we love them with all our hearts. Give your little guy a pat on the head and an extra treat tonight. He got you through a lot of long days.


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