The relationship with our pet is one of the most important relationships in our lives. Our pets provide us with love, comfort, joy, and companionship throughout their lives. It is only fitting that we mourn them when they pass on. Grieving the loss of a pet is a healthy way for each of us to work through the emotions that are associated with the relationship. Expressing the emotions is a he way to release them from the body and allow us to heal. Holding in the emotions only causes more pain and discomfort.

Common Emotions Felt When Grieving

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grief in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying”. The emotions that may be experienced while grieving the loss of a pet include: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

A few weeks ago my husband and I lost Luke, an eleven year old German Shepherd. The last month of Luke’s life my husband was working out of town. Coming home on the weekends, he didn’t notice the decline in Luke’s health. My husband was in denial of what was happening.

The last weekend that Luke was with us my husband became very angry. He was mad at his job for sending him out of town. He was angry at seeing Luke’s body fail. He even started saying Luke will be okay if we can just get him to eat. He needs a little more rest.

The in-home vet service came late on Saturday and assisted Luke with passing on. My husband spent the day sitting with Luke crying. My husband was depressed for the next week while he was grieving the loss of a pet. Then he understood. Luke had a good long life. He had been healthy. He had played ball everyday. My husband started accepting reality.

Moving Through The Emotions

While grieving the loss of a pet it is important to allow the emotions to flow. Express your love and loss in a way that allows you to heal and honors your relationship with your pet. Grieving the loss of a pet is a personal journey. There is no right or wrong way to mourn.

When you are grieving the loss of a pet take care of yourself. Do the little things that bring you comfort such as having a good cry, watch funny movies or anything that makes you laugh; go for a drive or hike in the country; make your favorite dessert; or listen to uplifting music.

Creating A Memorial Journal

A comforting idea when grieving the loss of a pet is to create a journal about your relationship. You can include poems, stories, pictures, tags, toys, ribbons, certificates, paw print and anything else that will help you remember your special friend and the memories that you created together.

During the week after Luke’s death my husband told stories about him while he was grieving the loss of a pet. I wrote down the stories trying to capture the heart of the story. I found all of the pictures of Luke I could and pasted them into my copy of In Loving Remembrance, a pet sympathy poems journal. Now we have a keepsake that we can enjoy anytime we need to remember Luke.

Author's Bio: 

I have always loved animals. Being with my dog or the horses brought me such joy growing up. I learned so many valuable lessons from them over the years that I can’t imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t had them.

After high school I went to college. It only seemed right to study and learn more about the animals that had already been teaching me so much. In 1995 I graduated from Colorado State University with my Bachelors in Animal Science. In 1996 I graduated again from CSU with my Masters in Agriculture degree with an emphasis in education.

In my free time I enjoy kayaking, hiking and horseback riding. I also participate in confirmation showing, obedience, herding and agility with my dogs; Basil (Bouvier 8 yrs), Tanner (Bouvier 3 yrs) and Hank (German Shepherd 1 ½ yrs).

My website is: