Coping With Grief from the Loss of a Pet

coping grief loss pet boulderholisticvet blog post

Everybody and everything dies. We all know this and it doesn’t make losing a pet any less painful. As a practicing veterinarian, I experience loss and grief weekly. It’s the part of my job that doesn’t get easier.

Our society doesn’t honor and acknowledge grief in a way that is helpful for those grieving. My mother died my first year in veterinary school. I was devastated and there was no place for my grief. I knew that life moved on, but I didn’t know how.

We all experience death and loss in our lives. It is universal.

I find when I can honor the love I have felt and still feel for the people and animals I have lost, I can move forward. Grief is just the love we still feel.

This is how I express the love I feel for the pets and patients I have lost.

Art

Painting or drawing can be very therapeutic. Sometimes I paint an object that reminds me of the animal. I have even painted the colors of my grief. I have made quilts where every stitch was a meditation of love.

Service

My veterinary class lost two classmates in a short time. At each of their memorial, I made a promise to them that I would help as many animals as I could in their honor. I do the same for the patients I lose as well. I funnel my grief into being of service to as many animals as possible. I would like to think that is what our deceased pets would want us to do.

Ritual

I often light candles for a set amount of time after a particularly difficult loss. I say a prayer, let myself cry and honor the transition.

Remember

Talking about those we miss can be soothing. My veterinary nurse and I will talk about our grief openly whenever it arises. Whether it’s the grief of losing our mothers or our patients we know it’s a safe place to share.

Please remember that you are never alone in your grief. I would love to hear how you honor the loss of your pets. You can comment below or find us on Facebook.

Sending a big hug,

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4 thoughts on “Coping With Grief from the Loss of a Pet”

  1. I lost my Boston boy Stan only three short weeks ago. He was 14 1/2, no eyes, deaf, diabetic and also suffered from Pancreatitis. We had a great run, we did a lot of amazing things together. He loved to play ball so I got him into Flyball, which was great fun but competitions were out as he wanted all the balls! lol He was my heart dog, my first Boston. I miss him every day. I miss his cousin Bea, she has been gone nearly two years and I can feel her presence here which is comforting. I have had dogs and cats all my life and will never stop. Going through the pain is worth every tear. Thanks for your articles Dr Angie, I also had Stan on CBD and was working lovely for his arthritis. I must get more. It helps me as well.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Sue,

      I am so sorry to hear about Stan’s passing. You are right, loving a dog is worth the heartache. I am sending you a big hug and so much love.

      Warmly,
      Dr. Angie

  2. I almost immediately adopt another cat. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to find the right fit and sometimes it only takes a few days. No the new cat does not replace a loved pet but it always makes me feel better. There are so many cats that need a furrever home.

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