The Last Goodbye: Coping with the Loss of a Pet

A grave marker by the coast

Raising a pet companion is one of the most fulfilling things pet lovers can do. We watch them as they learn and grow, and develop a strong, unshakable bond similar to our human relationships. In many ways, the unconditional love offered by a four-legged friend transcends other interpersonal relationships.

So, when the inevitable end arrives, it can be extremely devastating. If you have experienced the loss of a pet, we are sympathetic and understanding. This is why the team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital wants to provide you with some gentle suggestions for coping with this loss.

6 Ways to Grieve the Loss of a Pet

Nothing can prepare you for the grief you feel when your pet passes away. It takes time for a person to truly heal from such a shock and loss, and everyone will process the experience differently. 

We’ve found that the following tried-and-true rituals can go a long way towards easing your pain as you travel this difficult road.

  1. Talk about it. Speaking to a trusted person can diffuse the shock and alleviate some of the sadness you face. Speaking about it makes it real, which is what is needed for you to process all that has happened. Some people find counseling helpful or group support for pet loss.
  2. Create a ritual. Losing a pet is a major life event that should be marked and honored through a memorial or ritual. Decide what you think would be meaningful for you and your pet. There are several options, from planting a memorial tree or garden, to giving a donation to an animal shelter in your pet’s honor, to creating a scrapbook with all of your favorite pictures of your furry loved one.
  3. Get involved with something you enjoy. Do you like to walk or hike? Staying active and exercising is a great way to increase your natural feel-good chemicals and release pent up emotions and stress. Any hobby that gives you a creative outlet, such as reading, crafting, or home improvement work, can also take your mind off of things for awhile.
  4. Reach out to friends. You would be surprised how many people can empathize with what you’re going through! Reach out to trusted friends or family members when you feel like the emotions are too overwhelming. It doesn’t matter if you feel like talking, sometimes just being in the presence of others can take you out of feelings of overwhelm.
  5. Give yourself some time. If you need to take a week to cry, then honor that need. If you want to go on a trip, then do it. Just make some time for yourself, even if that means using some of your time off from work, it will be so healing in the end.
  6. Make sure you are caring for yourself. When we are hurting, it’s easy to forgo basic hygiene needs, lose sleep, stop exercising, and not eat nutritious meals. But these foundational needs are good for your body as well as your mind and spirit. In participating in basic self-care, you are giving yourself a boost, which helps with overwhelming feelings and coping with the loss.

If you have lost a cherished pet, we offer our deepest condolences. As pet lovers ourselves, we’ve felt that pain and know that it will take time and patience to move through the feelings of loss. 

If you would like some additional resources for coping with pet loss, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you.