How To Deal With The Loss Of A Pet

How can I deal with the death of a pet?


At Brookfield Animal Hospital, our pets are part of our families so we understand how important they are to you.  Here are some ways to manage your grief when your pet dies.



Be proactive and reach out for help before it’s too late.


After you pet passes away, you’ll likely look back and ask yourself if there was anything you could have done differently.  Before your pet dies, reach out to us and ask us for our thoughts on how to manage your ailing or aging pet. It’s likely that we have lots of ways to make things easier for you both. It will also help you to look back on the decisions that you made while your pet was alive and know that you made the best possible choices given the circumstances.



Tell your pet how much you care while he or she is alive.


Tell your pet how much you love him and how much he has meant to you.  Lay down with your pet and thank him for his companionship and his love. It will be nice to look back and know that you said everything you could to your pet while he was alive.


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Remember, you gave your pet a beautiful gift.


Though you were wracked with emotions, you chose to be strong and to push past your grief to care for your pet.  Dying is often hard, but you made it much easier for your pet by being there to comfort him, to tell him that you loved him, and to physically provide the care he needed in his last days. You have the capacity to be very generous and giving.


Remind yourself that death is a natural process.


All of us will one day die. Don’t dwell on thoughts of death. Instead redirect your thoughts to the wonderful time you and your pet had together in life.  The death of your pet is not the end of your life; it is only one portion of it.  Look for the beauty that is in today and know that there will be happiness and beauty in every day that follows.  Your pet is only one gift of many that will come to you in the days that you have left on this earth.


Remind yourself that you gave your pet a beautiful life.


During his lifetime, your pet had great healthcare; great love; nutritious food; love; safety; a home; a clean, dry, comfortable bed; and a lifetime of companionship.  Remind yourself that you gave that to another being. Remind yourself that you are capable of sustaining intense, loyal love that can last years.


Reach out for compassion and love.


Don’t wait to be consoled. Extend kindness and love to those that knew your pet and that helped you during the months and weeks leading up to his death. Tell them how thankful you are that they are in your life, that they love you, and that they loved your pet.


If you are too emotionally guarded to talk to others, write out your feelings in the form of a diary, a testament, or even a letter to the deceased.  It’s okay to cry.  It’s even okay to rage.  It is critical that you recognize your pain, however trivial it may seem to you or others.  Unexpressed grief will not vanish on its own. It should to be acknowledged, felt, and released so that you can heal.


Grieve Together.


Gather together as a family, or as a group of friends and share your feelings of sadness and the love you felt for your pet.  Many pet cemeteries offer gathering rooms for services, in conjunction with pet burial or cremation, where family and friends of the pet can grieve in a solemn, spiritual setting.


Create a legacy.


It may be helpful to create a gesture of your love.  Planting a tree, donating toys and food to a shelter, or making a contribution to an animal welfare organization in your pet’s name may assist you with physicalizing your feelings, drawing them out of you, and helping you with the healing process.


Take responsibility for your happiness.


Death is not evil; it’s natural.  The worst thing about it is that a companion that you loved had to suffer because of it, but thankfully you were there to mitigate that as best as you could.  Yes, your pet will no longer share your bed, your breakfast time, long walks or drives with you, but you will connect with other people and animals in the days ahead and you will find a different kind of happiness in those events.  For as long as you live, your pet will live on in your memories. That says a great deal about your kindness, compassion, and capacity to care.


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