Supporting Someone Through Pet Loss
Losing a pet can be just as devastating as losing a family member. I was an adult when I lost my childhood golden retriever and it was still an incredibly tough blow. I struggled to find the energy to move on for weeks after she passed and my family still talks about her as if she’s in the room about to run in, wagging her tail, to say hello. As hard as I found this experience, losing a pet is even tougher on children. Regardless of age though, everyone feels grief and how you help someone who has lost a pet in the days following the loss is critical.
How you support someone depends on how close they are to you. If you’re very close to them, treat this as if a family member died. Many children may even need to go through counseling following the loss of a pet if they struggle to understand why this happened after weeks since the death of their pet. However, many people can get through with the simple support of family. Here are a few options to consider:
You should be outside as much as possible and surround the person grieving with close family so there is stimulation to allow them to understand that life goes on. And even though life goes on, that doesn’t mean that their pet doesn’t still hold an important place in their heart and always will.
Find Something that will Symbolize their Love for their Pet
This can be an actual urn or something purely symbolic like a special teddy bear, book, or clothing item. We would highly recommend both a memorial, where part of their pet can remain with them forever like a Loyal urn, as well as a stuffed animal like the ingenious GriefPets. GriefPets are designed for children who have lost a pet. They include a microwavable warming pack so a child can always feel warmth from their stuffed animal that memorializes their beloved pet.
For an adult, you can always get a memorial gift like a ceramic item with a paw on it, a pet portrait, although this can be a very personal gift, or a nice blanket with an animal scene or paw print on it.
Hold a Ceremony to Celebrate their Pet’s Life
This piece is important whether the person you’re supporting is an adult or child. Even just a small 10-minute ceremony can help aid in the grieving process. You’re welcome to incorporate the pet’s ashes or urn in this ceremony as well. If you are keeping an urn, everyone can touch the urn and a small prayer as well as what they loved most about their pet. If you are scattering some or all of the ashes, this is a great focal point for a ceremony. There are some great readings to do for a pet loss ceremony.
Caring for the loss of a pet in many of the same ways you would when losing a family member is very important since it is all part of the grieving process. We would recommend you take this process carefully and slowly. No matter how old someone is when they lose a pet, it is always very challenging.