Grieving for a Lost Pet (In Memory of My Dog Sephi) Part I

Sephi was not supposed to be on the bed but I caught her in the act!
Sephi was not supposed to be on the bed but I caught her in the act!

Losing My Dog Sephi

I lost a good friend of mine this past month. My dog Sephi succumbed to a sudden illness, most likely cancer or a severe auto-immune disease. She had been my constant companion for the past ten years and I will miss her a great deal. I love dogs and have had at least one in my life for all of my life. So grieving for a lost pet is nothing new to me. But it still hurts.

Sephi Loved Snow
Sephi Loved Snow

Emotions of Dealing with a Lost Pet

Dealing with a lost pet can be just has difficult as dealing with the loss of a loved one. And as such, we are afflicted with much of the same range of emotions – shock, disbelief, depression, numbness, fear, and guilt, just to name a few. And each of us will feel some of these emotions more severely than others or some emotions we might not feel at all.

The most important thing to know when you are grieving for a lost pet is that whatever you are feeling, these feelings are normal. You might hide in bed for days and go through a lot of tissue or you might resume your normal activities right away. Either way, everyone copes differently and that is okay.

Sephi and Maya doing a good job of not begging while we are eating a meal.
Sephi and Maya doing a good job of not begging while we are eating a meal.

Talk to Other Pet Lovers

For me, talking about it with my friends and family who are also animal lovers has helped a great deal. The most common things that people tell me is that they know how I feel, that Sephi is now in a better place, or that I did the right thing by letting her go. No one truly understands, even if they have lost their own pet because all of us are different. Each of us has a different relationship with our pets and each circumstance for letting them go is different. Also, even though I know Sephi is in a better place, this thought doesn't help to fill my emptiness. And maybe I did to the right thing but I can't help but to wish that I had done something different. Although the words themselves may or may not have been much comfort, it was comforting to know that people cared that that they were there for me in my grief.

Avoid such conversations with those who might say something like, "It was just a dog" or "You can always get another cat". Unless you work in a job with animals, employers and co-workers can be especially unsympathetic. Not everyone is an animal lover and you can't expect them to be very supportive of you and your emotions if they don't understand.

Sephi tolerating bunny ears just for me.
Sephi tolerating bunny ears just for me.

Seek Support if Your Emotions are Out of Control

While being depressed or numb is okay for a time, be careful about letting it overwhelm you. Going into deep depression or bottling your emotions for a long period can both lead to further mental health issues down the road. Allow yourself some time for grief, but if it seems like your grief is lasting too long seek professional help. Likewise, if you find that you are purposely avoiding dealing with your lost pet, force yourself to talk to someone whether it is your therapist or a support group. Some humane societies or animal organizations have such support groups.

Sephi promoting a product.
Sephi promoting a product.

Get a New Pet or Not?

Some people cope by getting another pet right away. I have to admit that I am tempted to do this. Even though I still have my dog Maya, it feels strange not having two dogs under my feet. I feel an emptiness without Sephi and I want to fill that void by getting another dog. But another dog will not replace Sephi. There will never be another dog like Sephi. In an emotional attempt to fill a void that can't be filled, I could be inadvertently leading myself to resentment towards the new dog.

Some people may not have another pet like Maya to help. Nobody wants to be lonely and someone who lives alone may need another companion after the loss of their pet. However, just keep in mind that you can't replace the pet you lost. Perhaps get a different breed of dog or different color of cat so that you are not tempted to try to compare the new dog with the one you lost.

Again, everyone is different. Some people may not want a new pet at all. If losing a pet is this difficult, some people may not want to subject themselves to another hurt. This is okay too.

Sephi loved her bones.
Sephi loved her bones.

How Long to Grieve

It has only been a month since I lost Sephi and I am still grieving. I cried very hard that fateful day and felt depressed for the next few. I am still sad now and even crying as I write this, but I am not crying as often. But the crying for a lot pet never goes away. You never forget. I sometimes still cry for Cassie, Smokey, Huckleberry, Patra, and other pets from my past. They were a part of my life for a very long time and deserve to be remembered.

The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss is Heaven's Gain
The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss is Heaven's Gain | Source

Do Pets go to Heaven?

There is one more thing I want to touch on in regards to losing a pet. Some people may have been told that animals do not have souls and therefore do not go to heaven. I, however, do not believe this. Animals are God's creatures. Just because he did not create animals in his image does not mean that he doesn't care about them. Isaiah 11:6-9 and 65:25 talk about how animals like the wolf and the lamb eat together peacefully in the new earthly paradise. If God doesn't want animals in heaven, why would he have them in our new earthly paradise? A good book to read on this topic is called "The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss is Heaven's Gain" by Niki Behrikis Shanahan. This book also has some good tips on dealing with the loss of your pet.

Sephi riding in the car.
Sephi riding in the car.

That is all I have on grieving for a lost pet. But I still have more to say. I want to share a little bit about my dog Sephi. Although it makes me sad to write this, I feel it is a bit therapeutic to review my fond memories of her. I will be writing another article soon which will be all about Sephi. Keep an eye out.

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Comments 15 comments

kat11 profile image

kat11 5 years ago from Illinois

I think losing a pet is similar to loosing a relative or family member. Pets are such a vital part of our family. I'm the one that gets so emotional. Voted up

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

I agree with kat11. When I had to put my cat to sleep after 14 years, it was like losing a family member - it was the hardest thing I ever had to do and she passed away in my arms. She was my "kid" and even after 8 years, I still think of her often. Just little things throughout the week will make my husband and I think of her.

It's really nice that you've written about and paid tribute to Sephi:)

Margolyn profile image

Margolyn 5 years ago from Wisconsin

She will be waiting for you, that's the best part, knowing you will see her again. And you will..

zzron profile image

zzron 5 years ago from Houston, TX.

I am sorry for your loss. I have a 13-year-old male Lhasa Apso named Reno, who I have had since he was six weeks old. I tell people he is the son I never had. I dread the day he is no longer with me. This was a wonderful, heartfelt hub and I appreciate you sharing your experience. God bless you.

Nature by Dawn profile image

Nature by Dawn 5 years ago Author

Thank you everyone. Only animal lovers could understand how close we are to our pets. I don't have children yet and Sephi was my only companion for years before I got married. She was my baby and I talked about her with family, friends, and co-workers as much as all of them talked about their children.

This is Part I of my article and is general info on how to deal with a lost pet. I will be posting part II which is more for and about Sephi later this week.

Cresentmoon2007 profile image

Cresentmoon2007 5 years ago from Caledonia, MI

I am so sorry that you have lost such a great friend in life. Dogs are wonderful companions. My own dog is my best friend, my everything. Reading this hub makes me feel such hurt and pain because I know the pain would feel if I lost her. Your dog's beautiful. She sure seemed to have done a lot for you and touched your life in a wonderful way. Great hub. Voted up. RIP Sephi

sandra walsh profile image

sandra walsh 5 years ago from Axarquia

I love this article. Sephi's a beautiful dog and you're a beautiful caring owner. I lost my Dusty in October. Memories seem to be the only things to hold on to. I've seemed to have sunk into an abyss, a void, that others don't understand. Living in the countryside in a foreign land doesn't afford me to seek professional help. Friends, one has to make selectively and there are many people who cannot understand that a dog is not just a dog but perhaps just as important as a child or a sibling. This you have made clear in a very fair and caring manner. Thankyou.

Nature by Dawn profile image

Nature by Dawn 5 years ago Author

Thank you! I am so sorry to hear about your Dusty. I have no doubt that he was a very special dog.

Amy 4 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing your story. On Saturday I lost my 7 year old Lab Carlie to Liver Cancer. I can honestly say that I didnt realize how much I loved her until she took her final breath. I cried harder at that moment than I did when my own grandmother died. It was such a sad moment and I will NEVER forget the look in her eyes as I told her how much I loved her and that it was going to be okay. Knowing that I will see her one day at Rainbow Bridge is comforting.

Sandra Walsh 4 years ago

I seem to remember having read about the death of a pet from you before when I had lost mine to a toad poisoning. I was grateful to your insight. I am really so sorry for your loss and hope that you will find peace soon. Thank you for your post.

Nature by Dawn profile image

Nature by Dawn 4 years ago Author

Amy, I am so sorry for you lost Carlie. It is so hard to lose a beloved pet. :`(

Sandra, I think I wrote two hubs when Sephi died - Part I and Part II. Toad poisoning - what a tragic way to lose a pet. It is a danger I would not have even considered.

sandra walsh profile image

sandra walsh 4 years ago from Axarquia

Sorry for all the others that have lost their pets and I do grieve still. The loss never seems to go away. Everyone deals with loss differently. Sorry about commenting on twice and I did try to delete the comment but don't know how.

Nature by Dawn profile image

Nature by Dawn 4 years ago Author

Sandra, commenting twice is not a problem at all. :0)

The loss of Sephi is recent enough that I still regularly grieve. But I still grieve for my dog Cassie and Smokey and other dogs who passed away years ago. So I know what you mean about the loss never seems to go away. Pets really bring something special into our lives and it is impossible not to miss them.

Raitu Disong profile image

Raitu Disong 3 years ago

I actually don't keep pets with me these days as I am a busy student. But i love pets. I used to visit my cousins, every time I visit them, that small cute kitty would be waiting for me.But now, she is no more. She fell from a terrace and died. It must be hard for you to shephi. But you did a good thing by writing a hub about shephi.

Nice, voted up!

mercedes 3 years ago

You really touch my heart!I was going crazy this pass weekend,because our small dog name loui was lost.I cry so much I did not eat because I was feeling so much pain For not having loui Home with me!!today I cryout to my lord JESUS,and 1 hour later after I finish my prayer GOD touch the people that had my dog loui!!the Girls told my son how to get to their hause and we went to get loui!!his home now and we thank GOD for caring about whatever we face in this life.nothing is inposible for the LORD JESUS.many blessing for you too.

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