Accepting and adapting after losing a pet

After your pet has died, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow.  Coping with the loss of your pet can be very difficult, here are a number of ways that might be helpful at productively dealing with your grief.
  • Hold a memorial for your pet and invite their animal and human friends.  Feed them all special food to mark the occasion.

  • Write a letter expressing not only feelings related to the loss, but also the thoughts and feelings related to life with your beloved companion.  Include stories and moments when your pet understood and no one else did, the times your pet knew you were sick and stayed by you, the funny little habits they had, the times of sadness and pain, the times your pet simply sat quietly and lovingly by your side.  This is also an opportunity to express gratitude for your pet.

  • Plant a tree or flower garden in memory of your pet as a living memorial to them.

  • Gather memories from family members and the other people that were in your pet's life, and create a scrapbook with photos and stories.

  • If you are inclined toward group work, join a support group for other people that are also coping with animal loss.

  • Obtain a wish list from a local animal shelter and throw a party asking friends and family to bring at least one item from that list.  Donate these items to the shelter in memory of your pet.

Many veterinary schools and other organizations have formed hotlines to provide sympathetic, nonjudgmental outlets for people facing the death of a family pet.

Most hotlines are staffed by trained, volunteer veterinary students, veterinarians and veterinary technicians. For a list of links, click here. You can also call the Iams Pet Loss Support line at 1-888-332-7738 from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. � 5 p.m.