A dog memorial. Picture via:

Pets are human’s best friend and that friendship is quite literal. Sometimes, a cat or dog can help you through tough times when no one else can. Speaking to someone who can respond back but still seems to understand everything can be the most helpful way to deal with stress. You play together, eat together, lounge around together, cuddle and laugh together; all the trademarks of a true friendship. So, when that time comes, it can be just as hard as losing a person, if not harder. Here are a few ways to help cope with losing that beloved furry beast.

  1. Give yourself time
A pocket watch. Photo via:

This may seem like a given, but allowing yourself to grieve, for however long you need, is the most helpful thing you can do. There is no shame in crying or grieving over a lost pet. 

“Express how you feel to family and friends and talk about it,” Plattsburgh Animal Hospital kennel attendant and animal holder Nicolle Brothers said. “Keep yourself surrounded with pictures and think about all the good memories you have with them.”

If you get a chance to say goodbye, definitely take it. Talk with your pet, show them gratitude and let them know that they are loved. It will help you in the future knowing you got that last chance to say goodbye, and if they were suffering or sick, that you know they are not anymore. However, sometimes it is impossible to say goodbye, and a sudden death can put a whole shock on your family, but it is still important to take some time and process the death. Talk to their grave, urn  or even a picture.

2. Create a memorial

A pet cemetery. Photo via:

Like humans, many places offer services for cremation or burials of pets, although this can be pricey. Some prefer to bury their pets in their own yards. This memorial can help you to process the death because it gives a physical element to grieve with. 

“A lot of people cremate and that helps them knowing they can bring them home and place them in their home and know they are still there with them.” Brothers said. 

The main reason for a memorial would be to get closure tangibly. However, some people may not need this to move on and can accept it within themselves.

3. Consider getting a new pet

A kitten and a puppy. Photo via:

This next option may be a little controversial. To make a comparison, a lot of people say the best way to get over a relationship is to start a new one, and that could apply here for some people. I say maybe for this one because a lot of people may take it as “replace the animal,” which is not what I’m saying. If you’re ready, and you have accepted the death as inevitable, gotten closure in a way that works for you and don’t have the intention of replacing the late animal, then I say getting a new animal to have a lifelong relationship with hurts no one. If you’re comfortable, you can even name your new animal after the passed one, or make a connection in any way from the old one to the new one to help you cope and to have that animal’s spirit live on through another. 

Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Some people ball their eyes out, some people don’t cry at all. The bottom line is you need to learn how you grieve and make sure you work towards grieving in a healthy way. Avoid the stressors that set you off and spark you to grieve in a way that is unhealthy for you. 

“I have had to deal with the loss of a pet.” Brothers continued. “For me the way I coped was giving myself time to grieve, and I got a memorial paw print done.” 

Don’t feel guilty about how you grieve. It is ok to cry even after you’ve received closure or to never cry once. It is okay if you bury or cremate them professionally or on your own. It is okay to get a new pet or accept that your companion was the only one for you. Any way you decide to grieve is valid.

This article is dedicated to my precious Quasi. Rest in Peace.

Photo by Jessica Collins

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