Pet Loss - Dealing with Grief

Pet Loss

Our pets are there when we wake up in the morning, and with us when we go to sleep at night. They are a constant in our lives, giving us consistency and routine. Pets also provide companionship and often get us through the tough times. It’s no surprise that when our pets pass away, we can feel a devastating sense of loss. Most pet owners feel a tight bond with their pets and are part of the family. Some people will feel an even stronger dependency if they have assistance pets which help them with day-to-day activities. Whatever the reasons, it is completely normal to feel grief after your pet dies. No one should feel embarrassed or guilty, even if some people in your life may not completely understand.

Forms of Pet Grief

Each individual’s grief will feel different to another. The more significant the pet was to you in your life, the likelihood is, the more grief you may feel. Grief can manifest in many ways, such as shock, depression, anger, sadness or loneliness. Some find that it follows stages of denial, anger, guilt, depression, and acceptance and resolution. Others find this does not happen, and that they can feel up and down with no sense of pattern. Whichever emotions you feel, and whenever, there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Coping with Pet Grief

One of the most important things is to surround yourself with loved ones who truly understand you and your grief. Talking through your emotions and about your pet can really help. Having a cry on your friend’s shoulder is okay, it can help you to heal and let out your emotions. Bottling it all up is often unhealthy, it’s important to allow yourself to feel your emotions, rather than pushing them down to deal with at a later stage. Equally you may find you’re not as emotional as you thought you would be. This is also okay, sometimes grief can surprise us.

You may find that holding a pet funeral or pet memorial brings a form of closure. Whether that be with a pet coffin, heartfelt readings or simply a moment to think about your pet. Looking through photos of your companion and reminiscing with friends or family can also feel comforting, as it can help keep their memory alive. If your pet was cremated, scattering their ashes can feel similarly cathartic as it is a ritual we are familiar with when dealing with death, ideas for this are mentioned in a previous blog post here. Some may feel that they’d like to keep their companion’s memory alive by having their photo in a frame in their house, keeping a pet ashes urn or having a pet keepsake such as a candle lit for them.

If you’re looking for other people to speak to outside of who you know, you may find solace in attending support groups where other people may be feeling the same as you. You could also read about other people’s experiences, helping you to feel less alone. See resources here. If you feel like you’re struggling, talk to your vet or GP as they may be able to put you in touch with a bereavement counsellor. You could also talk over the phone, email or webchat with the Pet Bereavement Support Service.


As much as it is a cliché, time is a healer. Over time you will most likely find that the loss of your pet becomes easier to live with. It probably won’t go away entirely - places or photos will remind you of your companion, bringing up feelings of grief – but it will become easier and less painful. Finding new focuses in life and perhaps getting a new pet can help with the healing process.