Although pet bereavement is often overlooked or downplayed, it is a very real and devastating experience. Losing a pet can feel just as heartbreaking as losing a human loved one, and it is for this reason that animal deaths should be given the same amount of care and attention as any other grief-provoking incident.
If you or someone close to you has experienced pet loss, it is important to understand grief and how to deal with it during this hard time. Dealing with the death of a pet is a process that varies from person to person, as mourning takes many shapes and forms; finding out more about how grief manifests itself and trying your best to work through these painful emotions, although it is hard, will be what is best for you.
This article will help you grasp pet loss, learn how to deal with it, and teach you how to support a friend suffering from the loss of a fur companion.
Just as grief differs from case to case, so does the story that comes along with it. Undergoing the loss of a pet happens in many different ways and each carries its own emotions and struggles. Although it does not matter how the loss of a fur baby takes place, it is important to comprehend that this time will not feel or look the same for you, your family, your friend, or anyone else who is trying to live through the death of a pet.
Often when we bring pets into our lives, we know that we are likely going to outlive them based on life expectancies; this does not take away from the pain of losing them. It is not easy to cope with losing a pet, even though we know that day is inevitable.
Having a fur baby by your side throughout its entire life—and perhaps you grew up alongside it, too—can make this process even more difficult. That pet has become a piece of you and without it, you feel lost.
When a pet passes away from old age, it helps to remember that they experienced a long, full life with you; you can let go knowing that you provided the animal with just as much love and comfort as it provided you.
Pet loss is already a devastating experience, but when the owner has to step up and become part of their pet’s death, it can often be accompanied by other feelings than just sadness: guilt, frustration, and shame. Literature on pet loss highlights that euthanizing pets is a decision that “is commonly supported and deemed as culturally acceptable” but this choice is a “complex one, exacerbated by the closeness of the human-pet bond” (Michelle Cleary et al.); so, although this part of the loss of a pet companion is seen frequently in our society, the implementation of euthanasia should still be considered a painful process for the owner due to the connections we build with our pets.
If you or someone you know is making a big decision like this one, it would be valuable to take a deeper look into making the process a bit more manageable. During this time there are many things to think about, so it is important to be as informed as possible and to make the best decision for yourself, your family, and your pet.
Unfortunately, some pet owners do not get to experience a full life-long relationship with their companion; life does not always make sense and we are left grieving the loss of a pet with no warning. This type of pet loss can be increasingly difficult because of all the questions that come with sudden tragedies. In times like these when confusion and anger build up, it is crucial to understand your grief and seek help dealing with the influx of emotions.
Losing a pet is excruciating under any circumstances; however, if you or a friend have unexpectedly lost a companion, understand that healing may require more time. Grieving is a personal experience, especially when these strong feelings arise seemingly without reason and without time to process them.
Similar to losing a beloved pet with no warning, a disappearing pet can rouse up some of the same issues regarding emotions of frustration and confusion because of the lack of closure. You constantly question what has happened and why, and often these inquiries are left unanswered.
This time is difficult, and even more so because you cannot confidently believe that your pet has left you for a better place. Despite this, it is important to allow yourself to grieve, go through the stages, and find peace with the loss of your beloved pet.
Losing a pet is painful because of all of the aspects of your life that were made better because of that companion. You feel as if your pet was an integral part of your life, and without it, everything has changed—for the worse. These feelings are natural and understandable based on what we know about the benefits of owning pets.
It has been argued that pets tend to lower people’s blood pressure, lower people’s heart rates, and decrease the risk of heart disease, and although these physical benefits help us in indirect ways that we may not notice, pets also change us mentally; animals can improve mental health, such as combating anxiety and loneliness for everyone from children to elders (Mandy Oaklander, “Science Says Your Pet is Good for Your Mental Health”).
Knowing this, it makes sense why we form such deep attachments to our animals and also why the grief is so strong when that connection is lost.
If you have lost a pet companion or someone you know is struggling with the death of a pet, there are many pet loss resources to help deal with the difficulties of this time. The Grief Recovery Method is a great place to find some support for mourning the loss of a pet or for helping someone close to you do so.
Pets become so integrated into our lives that we view them as part of the family, not simply “just a pet”. They live with us, eat with us, travel with us, sleep with us, and grow alongside everyone; they take part in all the activities that any other member of the family would, so why would we not view them as such?
Research shows that people commonly view the relationship they have with their pets similarly to how they view their relationships with their children (John Archer). This demonstrates why it is so difficult when we lose them.
Because the familial bond we cultivate with our pets is so strong, when this bond breaks, it can sometimes produce a reaction that compares to the intensity of losing a close human relationship (Archer). The pain that comes from losing a fur companion is thus completely understandable as you are experiencing a loss in the family.
One of the things we gain when we welcome a pet into our home is the unconditional love that pets exude to all their owners. As wonderful as this is, it also means that when that beloved pet passes on, we often feel a void where its love once was.
It is known that animals fulfill emotional needs that we sometimes have, and people have praised that their pet is always there for them, always loves them, and is completely uncritical (Archer); the love that you receive from a pet is unfiltered and is not given to you based on conditions.
The reason the loss of a pet and its unconditional love is so devastating is that often we feel that this type of relentless love does not exist elsewhere in the world; as much as people around us show they care for us every day, it feels different coming from a creature that you know can always be relied on for that love.
Dealing with pet loss can also be difficult because of the security and comfort that is lost through the absence of your companion. News in Health explains in “The Power of Pets” that animals provide comfort and support.
Pets are often very tuned in to our emotions and because of this, they know when to console us and, even when we do not notice, we truly value this care and attention. Constantly sharing space and privacy with this animal is very rewarding (Bidhu K. Mohanti); however, this means an uncomfortable void is left when that connection is gone.
Often, people who live alone bring pets into their homes because they seek companionship and connection; this can make the loss of a fur baby even more difficult. Evidently, when all your time is spent with one friend, when you lose that friend the void seems impossibly large.
When a person has confided all of their time and energy into a beloved pet, and the time comes when that opportunity ceases, grief can be overwhelming. It is common for elders specifically to invest their love into an animal once they are on their own; if you know of someone in this situation, it is valuable to assist them in moving forward after their loss.
It can be so difficult to provide solace to someone who has lost a pet, and most of the time we don’t have the answers as to what to say or do to help whoever is grieving. One way to show a friend that you are thinking of them in such a painful time, or a way to help yourself cope with the death of a pet, is to look at unique pet loss gift ideas and find the one that is best suited for you or your friend. We have many meaningful gifts here at Everlasting Memories for you to look through.
Loss of pet gift ideas are so significant because they are a forever symbol of your lost fur companion; gifts are a way to always remember the pet and the love that it embodied within its family. As humans, our memories fade, but having little gifts to cherish the time you shared with your pet can help you keep close the connection you created with them. We have provided you with a list of meaningful pet loss gift ideas by the following types: Pet Loss Gifts To Always Carry With You, Pet Loss Gifts For A Memorial Site, Pet Loss Gifts For Children.
Each owner has a gift that suits their personality, their lifestyle, and their lost pet. Some great gifts come in the form of something that you or the owner can have at all times, and most of these contain physical pieces of the past pet, so you can constantly feel their presence.
When losing a pet, there is a void that seems daunting and hard to fill; it can never truly be mended but being able to have a constant reminder of your lost companion can help make the day-to-day slightly more manageable. While deciding on a gift, keep in mind the daily activities, the preferences, and the style of your intended receiver.
Pet Cremation Jewelry is a special gift that allows you or your friend to always have a memory and a piece of their passed companion with them. There are so many different options so that anyone who likes and wears jewelry can receive something that suits them and speaks to their preferences.
In these pieces, you can contain the pet’s ashes, hair, nail clippings, or dirt from your pet’s favorite place in the yard, and this serves as a physical reminder of their presence. We offer a collection of pet cremation jewelry, as well as a guide to ensure you choose the perfect gift.
This gift idea is another great way piece to gift to someone so that they can carry with them their beloved pet after they are lost. The versatility of this gift certifies that there is a match for everyone, whether it be a colored photo, black and white, just the pet, or the pet and its owner.
We believe that this collection of pet photo engraved jewelry of ours is very special because after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
A creative gift idea, which you can find here at Everlasting Memories, for someone who has lost a pet is a piece that turns ashes into jewelry. The many options from necklaces and rings for everyone from children, women, and men allow each person to find something that speaks to them.
In this piece, the ashes of the lost pet can be mixed into a resin for the jewelry. It is a beautiful way to honor a past fur baby and always carry them along.
These simple items can be the perfect give for somebody who needs a small reminder of their beloved pet. You can have coins, keychains, and bookmarks custom engraved and they are perfect to take with you in your pocket, purse, or car.
A personal way to show you care for your grieving friend is gifting them a custom phone case with a picture or collage of their lost pet. We take our phones everywhere and use them on a daily basis; this gift is one that your friend would get a lot of practical use out of and it will also serve as a charming reminder of the unconditional love they shared with their pet.
For some people, a sacred space to set up and visit to cherish their lost pet speaks more to them than always carrying a part of them around; they prefer some sort of sanctuary where their pet can peacefully rest and also where the owner can go when they feel they have the capacity to reminisce. As we have mentioned earlier, the grieving process is very different for each person, which means that certain gifts are suitable for each person as well.
Gifts that mark the steady memory of a lost pet and that symbolize their physical and emotional place in a family can help owners find peace and see the beauty in the life that they shared with their fur baby.
Having a decorative, special place to keep your beloved pet is a meaningful way to keep them safe in your home and your heart. There are many options to choose from here on our website, and they creatively portray the beautiful life of a pet. Take your time choosing a pet urn, as that is your lost pet’s new forever home.
Pet urn gifts are wonderful ways to showcase the sanctity of the relationship that was shared with that pet. Small pet urns are available for little pets. These gifts demonstrate that the death of a pet is just as devastating as losing a human loved one and that these past members of the family deserve to be commemorated.
Another great way to memorialize a pet is to have a customized pet stone or a figure resembling the lost pet made and placed near their grave or perhaps placed at their favorite spot in the yard or house. These can come in many shapes and sizes and can also have personal text engraved into them to make them more special for you and your pet.
This gift can be a steady reminder of the pet’s life and can also serve as a sanctuary for the owner to go to grieve.
Gifting a portrait to a grieving pet owner, one which they can set up in a special place in their home or with their pet’s urn as a visual depiction of their lost pet, can be a very meaningful gift.
Find the best picture of the pet or the pet with its owner and search through our collection to discover the perfect frame that fits your friend’s decor, style, and preference. These portraits are clear, good quality, and long-lasting.
Similar to pet urn gifts, keepsake urns for pets and customized boxes are an excellent way to keep safe those memories of your pet. We have some selections of memorial keepsake boxes on our site that are elegant and meaningful gifts for people grieving and looking to honor their lost pet.
These can also vary depending on preference, price, and style, but there is an option that suits each grieving owner.
Commissioning a painting of your or your friend’s lost pet can create a beautiful piece for a home or memorial area. These can come in any size that suits their expected location, and you can choose any photo that speaks to you or best represents the relationship with the lost pet.
If you or your friend is creating an outdoor memorial site for the pet, consider buying a lawn light that can come in cute designs like pawprints, or gift them a flower, tree, or other types of plant that they can add to the site.
Sometimes taking care of a plant or maintaining a yard set-up can act as a secondary healing method, giving the grieving friend something to take their mind off their loss or fill up some of the time they now have after losing their fur companion. These can be beautiful additions to memorial sites and show flourishing life and light amid sadness and death.
The bonds between pets and children are special; both are growing and changing together, and they can often view themselves as from the same litter. This can make it difficult for children when a pet is lost. It is made especially hard when a child is young and cannot fully grasp what has happened to their fur friend.
Often for children, a tangible, storybook-like gift is valuable; especially for young children whose memories of their pet companion may fade throughout the years, making a scrapbook or a collage of the photos of their pet can help them maintain the memories of the love and adventures they shared.
Also, allowing the child to help with the creation of this gift may prove just as meaningful as the gift itself; it can help them heal and reminisce about the life of their companion.
Gifting a grieving child with a custom stuffed animal or one that resembles their lost pet can prove more meaningful than we know. Children are known to carry objects like stuffed animals with them throughout childhood and even adolescence because of the attachment they create with them; this attachment can become even stronger if the animal is a symbol of a real pet they once had.
Consider this gift for a child that loved cuddling or frequently slept with their pet.
Gifts that double as an activity are specifically significant for children because it keeps their minds occupied yet also allows them to work through their emotions without being overwhelmed. A puzzle with a picture of their passed pet is a wonderful and sweet way of remembering the pet and allows the child to pick up this symbol whenever they feel the need to reminisce about their lost friend.
In times of deep sadness and confusion, children need to be comforted. Gifting them with a custom pillow or quilt depicting their lost pet gives them something to keep them warm and secure. If their animal enjoyed sleeping in their bed, this is an especially meaningful gift.
Similar to the stuffed animal gift idea, a pillow or blanket is something that a child can bring along with them through many stages of life to keep the memory of their lost pet companion close.
It is both daunting and relieving when you realize that each person’s experiences, grief, and needs during the time of pet loss vary so much; this means that although it may seem impossible to know how to support your friend, there are also a variety of things you can do to help in a difficult time like this. You know your friend best, so based on how they deal with anger, sadness, or confusion, you can find some way to ease their mind, even just slightly.
A common way to show someone you care and to take into account their struggles is to relieve them of some of their menial, everyday tasks like cooking, or to make them something sweet to indulge in during their difficult time. Grieving the loss of a pet can sometimes take away our motivation to take care of ourselves or to spend the energy doing necessary things like cook. If your friend is experiencing pet loss, consider making them something and bringing it to them in their time of need.
To support a friend dealing with the loss of a pet you can offer to check off the tasks on their to-do list that they either do not have the energy for or do not have the time for. Just like how cooking meals can be demanding in a time of grief, so can fulfilling the chores of the day. Offering to pick up these duties for your friend can be very helpful; it can allow them time to sit with their emotions and sort through their feelings, or it can enable them to take care of things like memorial and burial arrangements.
You know your friend best; if they are someone who is still deeply mourning or someone who is very sentimental with materialistic items, it may prove a valuable offer to lend a hand in disposing of, storing, or donating your friend’s lost pet’s things. It can be hard seeing your animal’s toys, bed, food, or cage, and it can be even more difficult trying to let them go.
If you or your friend seems to be struggling with deciding what to do with a pet’s belongings, consider if it is the right time. This is a hard choice to make, so be by your friend’s side and help out if the task appears too difficult for them to handle.
When an owner has multiple pets and one of their beloved fur companions passes away, there may be difficulties keeping up with the maintenance of the other animals; it may also be difficult to cuddle or play with the other pets while mourning a loss. Offering to take care of these pets in ways like taking them for a walk or inviting them over to play with your own pets may allow the owner to focus on their emotions towards their lost companion.
Grief affects us all and that includes our pets. The remaining pets of a mourning owner may also be experiencing upsetting emotions, whether it be because they also miss their furry friend or because they can feel and resonate with their owner’s overwhelming grief. It is important to understand our animals’ grief and to help out with these pets while their owner mourns could be beneficial to all who are being affected.
Sometimes just lending a helping hand to a friend who is trying to decide how best to honor their pet or has decided and needs assistance with the execution of a beautiful memorial is the perfect way to support a grieving friend. It can be a difficult task to think about and arrange on one’s own, especially during a time when sadness can be overpowering.
One great way to provide this support is by creating an animal memorial page for your friend’s lost pet. You can produce a beautiful product to help out your friend in the memorial process as well as provide them with a sentimental reminder of their lost companion.
A pet lover is an animal lover. To ease a friend going through a pet loss, placing a donation to a local animal shelter or humane society in honor of your friend and their pet can fill a small void in their grieving heart. Although this may not directly impact your friend, a donation is an act that speaks to the love they shared with their animal and can provide some sense of purpose or consolation in a sad and confusing time.
Since everyone deals with grief differently, there are many things you could do to comfort your friend. Some people need to deal with their circumstances directly and need to work through their emotions; however, others gain more closure and peace from doing different tasks or hobbies so as to not consume themselves with their negative feelings.
As a friend—and if you know that your friend is this type of person—it could prove beneficial to make plans to take their mind off of their grief, even just for a short while. This can be as simple as having a movie or game night, going out to dinner, going shopping, or meeting up with a group of close companions for a gathering. This may not heal your friend in any way, but it could give them a break from their sadness and allow them to experience some fun and regular-life activities again.
This is another idea that takes you genuinely knowing your friend. If your friend is having a hard time dealing with an empty house or misses the presence of a fur buddy, consider offering for them to come to see your animals or ask them to pet-sit for you; this way, they can briefly relieve themselves from the loneliness and can be stimulated in a way that they are missing. If you do not think your friend is ready for the company of a different pet, perhaps choose another way to comfort them.
If some time has passed since the pet’s death or if your friend seems eager to welcome a new companion into their home, help them work through this decision. Make sure they are truly comfortable and that they are fully aware of what this choice means.
Finding the words to say to someone who has just lost a pet companion is tough. Your grieving friend has many conflicting emotions and frustrating questions on their mind, and you must remember that, as much as this loss does not make sense to them, they do not want you to make sense of it. When a tragedy like this takes place, someone grieving simply needs and wants to be reminded of the support and resources they have at their disposal, as well as the love that they shared with their pet.
Depending on the age of the child who has lost a pet, dealing with the loss will be different. At very young ages, children often do not understand where their pet has gone and when it will be returning. In this case, be firm in the fact that the pet will not return so as not to create false hope but be gentle because that child has just lost a friend. With older children, it is important to be transparent with the situation and to give them as much time to heal as they need without rushing them or judging them.
Knowing when to give your friend their pet loss gift is once again a matter of personal knowledge; you know your friend best. If you believe that it is too soon for your friend to deal with receiving reminders of their pet loss, then perhaps wait until they have begun to heal. On the other hand, if you know that your friend needs the comfort and care that your gift represents as soon as they can get it, then it is a good idea to show them you are there and that you are thinking of them.
The five stages of grief are as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although these stages are the common phases one goes through during a time of loss, it does not mean that everyone progresses through the stages with the same amount of time or intensity. Understanding these phases and recognizing the process of grief can help make this time more manageable for you or your friend.
Sometimes we can’t comfort a grieving friend on our own—we need some help from other resources. Below we have listed some pet loss resources to help you or your friend deal with the death of a pet:
There is never an easy or a universally right way to deal with a pet’s death and helping someone else cope with it is just as difficult. It is such a personal process, so what works for one person may not work for the next. Gifting a friend something to comfort them in their pet loss is just as personal of an endeavor, but there is something that will suit everyone and that will accurately and beautifully honor their pet.
Simply reminding your friend that you are there to support them, you understand that they are suffering, and you want to help in any way you can goes a long way. If you are struggling with a pet loss, reach out for help and support from those around you and remember the amazing life you cherished with your fur companion.
June 30, 2022 by Frances Kay