We all know that losing a pet is an inevitable part of the experience of having an animal companion. But that knowledge does little to prepare us for coping with the loss of a pet.

Grieving over a pet begins the moment it is understood their end is coming. It is then that we begin to imagine our ‘new normal’ of facing a life without them.

Many will find the decline of a beloved pet too much to witness and choose euthanasia early on. Others will choose supportive palliative care for as long as possible and choose euthanasia only when suffering is unavoidable. And still others will provide hospice care until a natural death occurs.

Depending on the circumstances, each of these options can be the correct path of care. What matters is that your decision is made out of love for your pet. The emotions that accompany these choices will vary. But, making the right choice for your pet will help to make your mourning a more peaceful and healthy process.

The complex mix of emotions felt by you and your loved ones may include: Guilt, Fear, Sadness, Anger, Resentment, Frustration, Helplessness, Acceptance, Peace, and more.

You are not alone. Whatever you feel, do not forget that many others share your feelings. Please surround yourself with others that understand and empathize with your loss.

The process of grieving for a pet after losing a dog or the loss of a cat is important. Reach out to family members, colleagues, friends, your congregation, your veterinary support staff, and others.

If you need a pet loss support group, click here for a list of providers in our area.

Coping with the loss of a pet takes time. You will not come to ‘closure,’ as we often hear. You will, however, start to move away from focusing on the sadness you feel surrounding the death and come to dwell more on the love and life you shared together.

If you are someone who wishes to offer condolences for the loss of a pet to a friend or loved one, the best thing you can do is simply honor their story. Listen with mouth closed and presence available.

Though we often try, those of us providing emotional support cannot ‘fix the pain.’ By simply listening, offering to help with daily chores or errands, picking up a shift for a coworker, and remembering to check in from time to time, you can make a world of difference to a person in mourning.