Grieving a Pet? Take Comfort in This.

No bones about it — losing a beloved family member is one of the most difficult things a human can go through. Those of us who have grieved a pet will never forget the crushing time that follows: the empty house and dog bed, the irreplaceable companionship, the inevitable feelings of guilt (“what more could I have done?”), and the seemingly never-ending well of tears. Since pet loss can also be a very lonely time — after all, no one loved your pet like you did — we rounded up some pet grief resources to remind you that you’re not alone and give you tips on how to cope. (Wags to our online community for their help with this article!)

Sending love and hugs to those of you going through the 💩 right now, Sidewalk Doggers.

Pet Grief Resources:

Things I Wish I Had Known When My Dog Died. In this New York Times essay, writer Jen A. Miller describes the passing of her darling Emily and shares six gems to console grieving pet parents. “It will get better,” she writes. “You won’t want to hear it, or believe it, because the pain is so suffocating. It does ease, though, almost without you noticing it.”

Permission to Grieve: A blog post by MN Pets, a Minnesota at-home euthanasia provider, reinforces just how very normal it is to feel like a hot mess when grieving a pet. In particular, we adore this quote they share: “When you are drowning in a swamp full of alligators, nobody expects you to get out of there with grace.”

On Euthanasia: What Happens After. An article by Paws Abilities Dog Training describes practical steps for the immediate aftermath of pet loss, including how your other dogs may react. It also emphasizes one of the most important steps of all: remembering to take good care of yourself while grieving. #selfcare #eatallthechocolate

Love, Guilt, and Putting Dogs Down. This classic blog post by author and animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell addresses one of the most common — and most difficult — emotions involved in pet grief: guilt. “It is easier to believe that we are always responsible (‘if only I had done/not done this one thing….’) than it is to accept this painful truth: We are not in control of the world. Stuff happens. Bad stuff,” she writes. “Remember: Much of what we love about dogs is that they live in the present and accept what happens. That’s our job, to accept what happens sometimes, even though it’s the hardest job of all.”  (Don’t miss the comments section, where many pet parents share touching stories of love and grief.)

Grief Support Guide. The kind folks in the Joy Session Network put together a comprehensive Grief Support Guide, including a list of physical and emotional symptoms you may be experiencing and actionable steps toward healing.

What other articles and resources have you found helpful for pet grief? Tell us in the comments here or chime in over on our community convo thread. (You’ll find some great support there, too. ♥)

Photo: Milan Popovic

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