The bonds we form with our pets are powerful, intense, unconditional, and deep. Our pets are more than just animals, they are our family members and dear companions. They provide us with a sense of meaning or purpose, strengthen our mental health, offer emotional support, keep us active, and give us unwavering love - which makes the loss of a furbaby that much more difficult. While it is never easy saying goodbye to a loved one, we've included some ideas on how to cope with the devastating loss of a furry friend.

Grieving the Loss of a Pet
    • Allow yourself time to grieve. This can be a traumatic time, and grief is a different experience for each of us. There is no timeline for the grieving process, and you should not be expected to "move on". Allow time for yourself and your family to express emotions.
    • Explain the loss to your children. Death is apart of life. Instead of telling your children that your family pet went away, it is important to be honest with them to help avoid possible guilt and confusion in the future. Be gentle with the reality of loss, and let them know that this loss hurts you, as well.
    • Honor your pet. A funeral or ceremony can help offer you a sense of closure. Be sure to involve the whole family, including your children, by having them say a few words or create a memorial.
    • If you have other pets, maintain their routines. Your other furbabies are experiencing loss, as well. Help them cope with this by maintaining their regular exercise/activity and feeding schedules, and be sure to give them extra love.
    • Reach out for support. Connecting with friends and family can help during the grieving process. Though others may not understand what you're going through, it can help to have someone there to listen as you work through your feelings. Pet support groups are also an option; these groups offer you an opportunity to have the support of others who can empathize with your loss. Therapists can aide you with your loss, provide you with long-term coping mechanisms, and are especially helpful in cases of depression.
    • Take care of yourself. The stress of losing a pet can take a toll on your mental and physical health - that's why it's important to spend time with loved ones, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and exercise regularly.
  Moving Forward after Loss
    • Create a legacy. Create a scrapbook or memory book of your beloved friend, plant a tree in their memory, or donate items to a shelter on your pet's birthday or adoption day. Celebrating the memories, life, and love of your furbaby can serve as a healthy act of closure.
    • Try to find new meaning and joy in life. We put a lot of time and energy into caring for our pets; now that they're gone, consider putting that energy into something else. Pick up a hobby, take a class, or help friends. Maybe you aren't ready for a new furbaby, but consider volunteering at a local shelter, rescue group, or animal charity. Being among other animals and animal-lovers can assist you in the grieving process.
    • Give yourself time. While it may be tempting to get a new pet in order to ease your grief and fill a void, it is not recommended. Grief takes time. It's important to wait until you, your family, and other furbabies are emotionally ready to open your heart and home to a new pet. It is a big decision that should not be rushed. You'll know when the time is right.
  Remember that there is no timeline for grieving the loss of a loved one, and grief is a highly individual experience. Don't let others tell you how to feel, and don't tell yourself how to feel. You may never fully recover from your loss, and that's okay. It's important to let the grieving process run its course, care for yourself, and remember the love and special connection you and your furry friend shared.