From Friend to Friend – Suggestions for those who are grieving

(© 1998, Juliet Brown –

Losing a pet is difficult and traumatic for many people. Our pets love us unconditionally, listen to us when we want to talk, and bring us so much joy. When it comes time to say goodbye to a special pet, it can break our hearts. Although some people may not understand the depth of our reaction to our pet’s death, it is important that we allow the grief process to do its work in order to slowly heal the pain.

When your pet dies, there are a thousand daily reminders of old routines and special shared times. The emptiness can be devastating, and the final memories seem too hard to bear, particularly if you saw your pet suffer. Painful as it is, it will help you if you can accept your grief now, and allow it to work its healing course in your life. The extent and intensity of your reactions may at times feel overwhelming, but this is not surprising when you think of all that you have lost in your relationship with your pet.
There may be some things you can do that will bring comfort to you in your time of grief. These may include things such as:

  • having a funeral or memorial service for your pet
  • writing your pet a letter ~ about your memories, and how much you love him/her and miss him/her
  • writing a poem about the times you shared
  • selecting your favourite photographs for enlargement and framing
  • making a donation to an appropriate organisation in memory of your pet
  • placing flowers in places that were of significance to you both
  • lighting a Memory Candle in your pet’s name
  • putting your pets toys, dishes etc. in a special place, such as a Memory Box
  • walking the paths you once walked together

Above all, do whatever is comfortable for you. Rituals can help your healing. as they encourage you to face and mourn your loss, and say goodbye in your own way.

Remember that you are not alone in your grief. Many people are devastated by the death of their companion animals. The pain may be so intense that you decide you do not want another pet. But your pain is a testimony of your love, and the special relationship you shared with your friend. One day, when the grief has eased, having another pet may seem desirable: the wonderful times you shared with your friend may prompt you to share your life with another animal. What greater honour is there of your dear pet’s memory?

Be kind and gentle to yourself, my friend. Don’t be surprised at the intensity or duration of your feelings of grief. Where you love deeply, you will grieve deeply. Allow the grief to teach you how much you loved and valued your animal companion. In time, there will be smiles through your tears, and the treasured memories of sharing your pet’s life will ease the agony of separation. You are a tender person who has taken the time to nurture another creature. And with every precious memory s/he has left you with, your special pet has returned that love to you a thousandfold.