Healing the Heart: Grieving the Loss of a Pet

loss of a pet

Research has shown what many pet owners have felt - that the loss of a pet can be as devastating as the loss of a human loved one. The human-animal bond goes deep, and the death of a companion pet can result in the same stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

During this time of grieving, it’s important to have supports and resources to heal from the loss. Creating a personalized memorial service, sharing stories and photos with others, and keeping cherished mementos are effective ways to deal with sadness and other strong emotions.

Your friends at Miller Funeral Services have some suggestions to help you cope with the loss of a beloved pet companion.

Memorial Ideas for Pets

A memorial service can be a healing step in accepting the death of a beloved pet, as well as gaining closure. The memorial can be for you alone, or it can include others who knew your pet and can support you through the healing process.

Some beneficial and meaningful ideas for memorials include:

  • Purchasing a memorial pet urn (we have several lovely options; please call us for details)
  • Hosting a funeral or memorial service at a pet cemetery or in your own backyard
  • Gathering with friends and reading letters to your beloved pet
  • Creating a painting, scrapbook, or poem in your pet’s honor
  • Keeping a lock of fur or a collar with tags in a shadow box to display with your pet’s photo
  • Planting a special tree or shrub in your backyard or getting permission to dedicate a tree at your pet’s favorite park
  • Planting a garden with a marker or stepping stone with your pet’s name engraved on it
  • Scattering your pet’s ashes in a beautiful place where you can visit often
  • Volunteering your time with an animal shelter or other favorite pet charity

Dealing With Grief After the Loss of a Pet

Grieving is a process that requires patience. There may be days that are overwhelming and include times of sadness, anger, or confusion, as well as moments of solace as you remember special times with your pet. Here are some ways to support you through the grieving process:

  1. Take time for yourself and give yourself permission to say no to extra activities or demands.
  2. Take comfort in the thoughts and memories of just how well-loved your pet was and how lucky you are to have known them.
  3. Focus on self-care, such as eating nutritious foods, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising, and--if it’s helpful--praying or meditating.
  4. Seek support from friends and family or grief and loss groups that include the loss of a pet.

Creating a Living Legacy

Providing for your pet is something responsible pet owners care deeply about, and many owners look into estate planning or trusts to establish a care plan for their pets. When considering your own will or estate planning, this might include addressing what happens to your pet should you pass on before them. If you haven’t considered a will or trust for your pet, now may be a good time to ensure that their health, shelter, and wellbeing are accounted for in this way. There are many suggestions online for creating a pet trust, and you can always speak with the lawyer in charge of your will.

You can even establish a trust in your deceased pet’s honor to provide for any remaining family pets, and donate a monetary gift to a nonprofit of your choosing. This is a true testament to your love for your pet companion, by creating a living legacy that will benefit other deserving pets.

After the loss of a pet, it will take time to fully heal from their absence. If we can be of any comfort or assistance, please call us.

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