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Pet Loss

Resources for Those Grieving the Loss of a Pet


It is becoming more and more socially acceptable not only to treat our pets as members of our families, but to also openly grieve when that fated day arrives and we lose a beloved pet. If we’re lucky, we’re surrounded by loved ones who are also pet lovers and understand the depth and pain of losing a pet.

As surprising as it may sound, studies show that people often have a more difficult time dealing with the loss of a pet, than with the loss of a human family member. This starts to make sense when you consider the degree of unconditional love that we receive from our pets, the fact that they are there to greet us at the end of every day, and that for many people, their pets are the primary companion in their lives. This is especially true in the elderly community.

The good news is, with the development of the social aspects of the internet, coupled with the increasing value placed on the importance of pets in our lives, there are many great resources to support you not only in your time of grief after losing your pet, but also in preparation of losing your pet.

An easy first place to start is with Meetup.com, a national source of groups of pretty much anything that you can think of, from wine tasting to hiking, to tango, to fisherman. You can join any group and meet up! They list over 3,200 pet loss support groups nationwide, so you’re very likely to find one in your area. You can also check with any university that may be in your area, your local library or chamber of commerce, local churches or other civic organizations to seek out pet loss support groups. You might be surprised at what you’ll find. And of course, your veterinarian will probably also be able steer you in the right direction.

If you’re not a face-to-face type of person, just Google pet loss support groups or forums and you’ll find a wealth of forums that you can participate in while remaining completely anonymous if that is more comfortable for you. Dogster.com has a great pet loss forum, and Pet-loss.net is a great resource for all aspects of pet loss and grieving. There are also a number of websites, both free and for a fee that will enable you to post a pet memorial to your pet. You can express your emotions through writing, a great healer when grieving and post pictures of your dear furry friend. Just Google “pet memorials” to find these websites. Some are more elaborate and will allow you to post videos too.

Griefhealing is an excellent website for grieving in general, whether for pets or humans. The site is run by hospice nurse and Grief Counselor, Marty Tousley and she provides many great articles, poems, books and resources.

There are also many excellent books written on pet loss, “Saying Good-Bye to the Pet You Love: A Complete Resource to Help You Heal ” by Lorri A. Greene, Ph.D. and Jacquelyn Landis, “Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet ” by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed., and “Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet ” by Gary Kowalski, just to name a few.

If you would like to do something more formal and create a tangible tribute to your pet, there are also several websites selling beautiful, high quality pet memorial products such as pet grave markers, pet urns, pet keepsake jewelry – some incorporate ashes into blown glass, pet keepsake boxes – that enable you to keep ashes together with keepsakes. Just Google the aforementioned words to find these websites. There are many of them.

The most important thing to remember is that however you’re feeling is okay. It is okay to grieve, and to grieve deeply over the loss of a pet. When you’ve loved and lost it hurts. And whether your loss is human or animal, it is okay to grieve. Be gentle with yourself and know that it will get easier. You can never replace an animal companion, but when you’re ready, there will be a new friend waiting for you who needs a loving home.

This is a guest post from author Colleen Mihelich, founder of Peternity

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