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Coping With Pet Loss

Updated on October 18, 2014

Losing A Pet Is Devastating.

Our pets are members of our family...pet loss can be just as heart breaking as losing a human member of the family...sometimes even harder, because our pets love us unconditionally and all of our memories about them are good.

When our cat Kitty Wompuss died, our entire family was devestated...even our dog was miserable. If you are feeling overwhelmed with grief, please know that you are not alone...and that your feelings are a normal part of pet loss.

Here you will find some of the things that have helped my family deal with the loss of our furry family member.

A Poem For Grieving

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there, I did not die...

~ Anonymous

Is It Normal To Feel So Much Pain?

Yes ~ You have lost a member of your family.

Don't let anyone tell you that it isn't normal to feel intense pain over losing your pet.

Your pet was a loving companion who was an important part of your life, just like any other family member or loved one. It is not silly, crazy or weird to grieve the loss of a family member just because that family member was an animal.

Your pet loved you unconditionally and found true joy in making you happy, while never asking for much else in return. That kind of love is rarely found in human to human relationships, so losing a pet can seem even more painful since our pets are so innocent and loving.

People who have never really bonded with a pet may not understand the depth of pain involved with losing a pet. All that matters is how you feel, don't let others try to make you feel guilty for your pain. Your pain is valid and a natural part of the healing process.

Is it Normal to Feel Guilty or Angry?

Yes ~ Everyone experiences grief in their own way.

Guilt and anger are the two most common feelings that occur after pet loss.

If our pet dies due to an accident, we tend to beat ourselves up...we feel like we should have done more to protect them, that it is somehow our fault.

If our pet dies due to sickness we feel guilt and wonder if we could have saved them by getting them treatment sooner or fed them differently.

We even feel guilty when we do the kind thing and have our elderly, sick or suffering pet euthanized.

These feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. We feel guilty because our pets depend on us totally and it's hard to not feel like we somehow let them down.

Instead of swelling on should haves & could haves, we need to focus on all the good memories & love we did share with them. You pet loved you and would not want you to blame yourself. Your pet would see you sad right now and want to comfort you and make you smile ans feel better.

Anger is also a common feeling. After we lose our pet it is normal to be angry. Our pet was an innocent and it all seems so sensless and it hurts so much. With emotions that intense anger is a good release valve.

The most important thing is to let yourself feel your emotions. It is completely normal to feel guilt, anger, denial and even depression after pet loss. It's okay to cry, scream, and be sad. Trying to deny your feeling will just make it worse and harder to cope with.

What Is the Best Way To Heal the Pain?

Acknowledge it and let yourself grieve.

The best thing you can do is to give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your pet. Be honest about your feelings, don't try to repress, deny or ignore your pain, that will only make it build up and hurt more.

Only by feeling the pain, can we begin to heal and work through our feelings. You have every right to grieve and feel pain. Someone you loved dearly has died and it hurts. denying that pain won't make it go away.

Express your feelings...cry, scream, pound on your pillow, talk to your loved ones, pray...do whatever you need to do to work through your feelings. When my Kitty Wompuss died I cried for three days straight, and it was big, loud, howling sobs...not quiet lady like sniffles. My hubby was beside himself trying to console me, while working through his own grief.

The most important thing is to let yourself grieve, then when you're ready the healing can begin.

The Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge Poem

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

~ Author unknown

~ In Loving Memory Of Kitty Wompuss

How To Help Your Children Cope With The Loss

~ Honesty is usually the best policy

When I was a child, we always had a house full of pets, but magically none of them ever died. Us kids were always told that the missing animal had been taken to live on a farm where they could have lots of room to run and play.

This never really fooled us, especially since we lived on a farm that had lots of room for them to run and play. When we were very small we often wondered if it was like a magic farm or a really big farm, because the whole farm thing really didn't make much sense.

As we got older (teens) we would just roll our eyes and say "yeah, whatever" but we came to eventually realize that my Mother needed the farm story more than we did, because the loss of a pet was so hard on her. It's really up to each parent how they decide to deal with death with their children. I was always totally honest with my kids and they appreciated being able to mourn the loss, but I can understand my mother's way also.

No matter which you choose, give the child the opportunity to say goodbye to their pet if at all possible first. I know that the thing we resented most about the farm story was that we never got to say goodbye.

Is It Best To Get Another Pet Right Away?

Don't Rush Into Anything

It is usually best to let yourself go through the grieving process first before even really considering getting a new pet. Don't let other people push you into getting a new pet right away either.

Children especially need extra time to work through their feelings, otherwise they can end up resenting the new pet, because they are afraid that by loving it, they are being disloyal to the previous pet.

A new pet should become a part of your family because you are totally ready to build a relationship and give all of your love to your new family member, rather than to fill the hole in your heart that losing the previous pet caused.

When you are ready, choose a new pet for it's own unique personality rather than a look-alike to your lost pet. Don't expect your new pet to behave like the one you lost, you need to be ready to love your new pet for who it is and not as a replacement for your lost pet.

Do Surviving Pets Greive After Pet Loss?

Yes ~ Pets form relationships just like people

After we lost our Kitty Wompuss, our dog Koko was just as devastated as the rest of us, maybe even more so, because she couldn't understand where her kitty was.

Koko spent hours staring at the door and whining, waiting for her cat to come home. She searched the house and yard for him and nudged us with her nose, as if saying "please, go get my kitty." It broke our hearts.

She became very depressed and stopped eating, spending more and more time staring at the door. We took her for a week vacation to the cabin to help her get her mind off the loss. She was very happy at the cabin and we thought it worked, until we got home and she immediately resumed the previous grieving behavior.

We actually ended up adopting a new kitten, even though we were not sure we were ready yet, just to help Koko. The change was astounding. Koko knew it wasn't her Kitty, but the new kitten gave her something new to focus on. Koko is completely in love with her new kitten and has recovered from her depression.

Thank You For Visiting - Please take a moment to say hello

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      It is heart breaking that I lost you, Tin Tin my beloved African grey parrot, I did not to be expect with you and did not know you are already part of me the date that you flown away from my shoulder. I love you and miss you so much. I pray to see you again someday but if not, I would see you in heaven.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      to My most beloved Max or hismany nicknames ehich he responde to all babydog, pumpkin pie , boo boo, buba, Daddy and I love you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      much and miss you. you were the best dog ever I am so gald we found each other.Our lives will NEVER be the same without you. our hearts are breaking.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My Miss Daisy. We played together, traveled together, vacationed together, sang together, laughed together. My life was richer just knowing her for 13 years. I will never forget her.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i had a chance to remember about my pretty.thanks.this is a excellent work.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. I didn't read every work of it right now, I may have to return to it sometime, and I know I would get sad.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      A touching page ... I personally have not coped well with "pet loss" ... over the past year or so, I've been separated [by divorce] from all the cats of the feral colony ... it is like a huge loss. And, then my mom's last cat, PePe died mysteriously and unexpectedly.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      Nicely done. I must admit that my husband and I are still grieving the loss of our basset hound, Howie. He disappeared during the 4th of July Weekend 2010, and we never found him. A friend suggests that an "angel" is taking care of him. (I am tearing up). Thanks for writing this informational and emotional lens. (I wrote a lens about him, btw)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Beautiful! Well done! Cremation jewelry is another option. A couple of sites, Jewelry Keepsakes, etc. have some beautiful pieces. Best to you and your family.

    • Sheryl Polomka profile image

      Sheryl Polomka 6 years ago

      No lens on Squidoo has touched my heart like this one. I just watched the Rainbow Bridge video and I'm sitting here in tears remembering my gorgeous Ridgeback that we lost last year :( Thank you for such a touching lens

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

      Thank you for creating this lens. Thinking of you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Such a touching lens. That's precious about your dog, Koko!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A very warm and comforting lens on something we've all experienced. Thank you for sharing.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London

      Very thoughtful lens with a lot of good advice - now added to my compendium lens All About Cats

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Extraordinarily well done and beautifully crafted. Blessed by a Squid Angel :-)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      This is a beautiful and sensitive lens on a topic that affects so many of us. Our pets become part of the family, yet the grief at their loss can take us by surprise. I think this lens will be a support for many.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Beautiful and important lens. The pictures are perfect. I like your memorial area in the middle.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      My pet died while I was on vacation. That was a few years ago and I still feel guilty and cry about it whenever I think about him dying alone. No one, not even a pet, should have to die alone. So sad. He was the best cat ever

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      Since our 4 footed friends are like children to us, the loss of one of them is like losing a child. Our Rio is 12 years old and though he's slowing down a bit, still loves to run and play. From the moment he found us, he has been a gift from above.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I can't imagine life without my Sassafrass, my 11 year-old dog who we found when she was just a puppy. She's like a child to me. To both of us.

    • ayngel boshemia profile image

      Ayngel Overson 7 years ago from Crestone, Co

      I've lost a few pets over the years Harley was by far the hardest loss, he was a pit bull I had raised from a teeny-tiny 3 weeks old. As an adult he weighed 85 pounds and I took him everywhere... It took ten years before I was ready to love another dog on the same level.

    • lakern26 lm profile image

      lakern26 lm 8 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens with a lot of useful information for anyone in this situation. I can certainly relate to all of the advice you've given in the face of my own loss. I, too, noticed that our surviving dogs felt the loss of our puppy girls very deeply as well. They did quite a bit of moping around and our oldest dog spent several days searching the house, looking for his girlfriend. It was all so sad. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement that you've given here.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very nicely done! I still grieve the loss of my lab, Zack, 7 years later.

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 8 years ago from California

      What a beautiful lens about a subject that anyone who shares their lives with animals can relate to. Thank you for putting this thoughtful lens together. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very touching and beautiful lens Bambi. Our pets means so much to us. I recently lost a dear friend named Rusty. He was a very special dog that my Grandmother took in. He was gentle, probably part golden retriever. He loved to play catch and would walk beside me every time I'd visit. I miss him very much. Thank you for this lens Bambi.:)

    • DAnnieB LM profile image

      DAnnieB LM 8 years ago

      very helpful... i've been there before and will again.... thanks Bambi!

    • Blossom777 profile image

      Blossom777 8 years ago

      Beautiful lense. Gave it a 5* One day we will be together again with our dear little angels. It is so amazing, they contribute so very much to our lives. We were blessed.

    • DoozieMom LM profile image

      DoozieMom LM 8 years ago

      Bambi, a few years ago my step-mom (who is disabled and has lived on her own for around 30 years) lost her beloved Doxen Tara, that she had loved as a child for over 14 years. You have summed up a lot of the feelings she expressed at this loss. I grew up on a farm, and my dad was kind of heartless. You never knew when "Thumper" might end up on the table. Although I long for the farm life again, it would be a "pet-friendly" lifestyle! These days, my pets too are like my babies and I am fiercely protective of them.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      What a timely lens for us as we deal with the loss of one of our beautiful bunnies a few weeks back.SquidAngel Blessings for you for a beautiful lens Bambi.

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      grannysage 8 years ago

      Ah darn, I put Starkat in the wrong column. He was a boy! This was such a wonderful idea Bambi. I agree about feeling guilty. I still feel guilty about both cats that died. But I always remind myself that they lived good lives and knew they were loved. Trill died in my husband’s arms, and Star died right next to my bed. I’m lensrolling this to White Cats Can’t Jump.

    • Simeyc1 profile image

      Simeyc1 8 years ago

      Awwww what a touching lens - you do become very close to pets - I have a little dog, a big dog and three cats and they all have a huge place in my heart! Great Lens!

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 8 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      what a great lens on a very touching subject. Our pets really become a part of who we are. Dealing with the loss of a pet can be devastating and your lens addressed the subject with tenderness and class. 5* and a blessing

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Bambi this will be really helpful to people who have lost their family pet. The grief is real and no different than the loss of a human. Your Mom, bless her heart, did what she thought was best.