Read About Grieving the Loss of Your Small Pet

Grieving the loss of your small pet is an uncomfortable but necessary process. Saying goodbye to a much loved and cared for animal can take different people down different paths. There is no right way to grieve.

Whether a pet’s death was expected or not can be a key factor in the process. Often, animal deaths catch us off guard and that can make things much worse for those who loved an animal. We often wonder what we could have done to have made their lives better or longer or we may beat ourselves up for not recognizing symptoms that they were aging or in ailing health. In any these case, unless the symptoms of an illness were obvious and ignored, there was likely nothing that could be done. Death is as much a part of life as birth and in the wild, animals die when they need to. As humans, we see death in an entirely different light and we must go through the grieving process.

Natural emotions that grieving pet owners experience run the gamut from sadness to depression and sometimes even anger. There is no set schedule for how long each stage of grief lasts. For some, the sadness subsides rather quickly and others are upset for months or even years. We provide for their needs and in return, pets give us unconditional love and tremendous joy. The loss of that relationship takes time to heal. If a pet owner finds him or herself in a depression for an extended period of time after the death of a small pet, they should seek the assistance of a doctor or therapist to help them move through grieving process. Children have extremely unpredictable reactions to the loss of a pet and the grieving process. It can be expected that they will be much more vocal about their sadness than older family members, but make note of it when you see them withdraw. If they continue to struggle with their emotions after most of the family has found some peace, outside help may be required.

If other pets live in the house and had a relationship with the pet that passed away, they will need to be watched for symptoms of grief as well. They may stop eating for a while, withdraw from the family and the other animals, exhibit unusual behaviors and be more grouchy than normal. They should be given the time to move through their grief as well. If after several weeks they still seem to be struggling, a veterinarian should be sought.

There are pet memorials available to help grieving pet families cope with the loss of a pet. Animals are often cremated after death and owners given the opportunity to take the remains home for burial or scattering. If neither of these options appeals to a family, the pet remains can be kept in a special container. There are a wide variety of urns and boxes for pet remains available.

Still another memorial is a plaster cast impression of a pet’s foot. Smaller pets are a bit more difficult to achieve a small print from, but it can be done. These come in kits or are offered by veterinarians. They can also be found in combination with photo displays.

Whatever your healing process, it is never easy to say goodbye to our pets. They are much loved and cherished members of our families. Patience, understanding and love will take you through grieving the loss of your small pet.