How to Cope With the Grief of Losing a Pet

Iíve had my cat for 18 years. She was my childhood pet and has been my companion for all of my young adult life and into my late 20s. Sheís been with me through all the ups and downs of adolescence. Now, sheís getting older and the pain of old age is catching up with her. I keep her comfortable, and sheís still a happy kitty, but I know the time to let her go is coming soon.

Whether a pet goes naturally or must be put to sleep, the loss is devastating, especially when theyíve been with you for so long itís tough to remember what life was like without them. Here are a few tips Iíve taken away from the process of dealing with the grief of losing a pet. I hope it brings you some comfort.

Let the Grieving Process Run Its Course

Iíve never been able to understand the grieving process†as clearly as I do now. While Iíve lost loved ones in my life, it has never been this close to home. When coping with the grief of losing a pet, you might notice yourself going through these stages:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Iíd like to think Iím phasing into acceptance now, but who knows where Iíll be after we say goodbye. The important thing to remember, and what Iím thankful for recognizing now, is that the grieving process is totally natural and should be allowed to flow however it may. In other words: donít beat yourself up over any of it.

Although these steps seem sad and your initial reaction might be to try to fix it, avoid it or cover it up with happy things ó itís important to let yourself process every step of the path to healing.

Take Care of Yourself

I havenít even lost my cat yet, but knowing itís coming makes the grieving feel even worse sometimes. It can be hard to pull myself away from my sadness long enough to do something for myselfóit feels wrong. But I have noticed that when I force myself to get up and have fun, Iím better able to deal with the process, and Iím more able to maintain a good attitude when spending time with her.

I know that self-care will be even more difficult for a period of time after sheís gone, so here is a list of things I do to help me feel better:

  • Cooking a favorite meal (or new recipe) with my husband
  • Treating myself to something super cozy like a soft sweater or warm socks
  • Curling up on the couch with a blanket, a book and a cup of tea
  • Binge watching a feel-good TV show
  • Visiting a friend and spending time with other animals

Do Something to Remember Them By

For some people itís a tattoo; others choose to keep their petís ashes after cremation in a pretty box or put a little bit in a necklace and spread the rest in a special place. There are also some weird ways to remember your pet†out there like using your petís fur to create a piece of jewelry or clothing.

If youíre used to sleeping with your cat right next to you†(or on top of you like cats do), that empty spot might make coping with the grief even more difficult. Treat yourself by buying a special pillow or getting a stuffed animal. It sounds silly, but thereís no judgement in how you cope with losing a loved one as long as itís healthy for you.

Donít Replace Your Pet

Some people jump into adopting a new pet shortly after losing their loved one, but this usually isnít the best idea. Any new pet is going to have its own personality, and itíll never be able to remove the sadness youíre feeling. Itís best to let the grieving process run its course, focus on taking care of yourself and do something to remember your pet by instead of trying to replace them. Then, once your heart has healed a bit, itíll be a better time to consider opening up your home and your heart to a new companion.

I believe my tips will help you cope with the grief of losing any pet, but hereís another article to help with mourning the loss of a dog. I hope my experience helps you through yours as much as others have helped me through this difficult time.

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Tylene is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, gardener, wife, auntie and pet-mom in Idaho. She cares†a whole awful lot about people, plants, animals, food and the planet. Reach out to her on Twitter @tylenewelch

Photo by†Yerlin Matu†on†Unsplash


Olivia H
Olivia H2 months ago

thank you

Gine O
Gine Oquendo6 months ago

Most of us have endured the pain of losing a beloved pet at some point in life and depending upon the type of relationship we had with our pet it will undoubtedly measure how much pain we suffer after the loss. Some people develop a profound bond over time with their pet, while others may just enjoy having them around and usually recover from grief rather quickly. They may even replace their deceased pet right away to help them cope and move on from the grieving process more quickly. Everyone has their own unique way of coping with pet loss. Please refer to this link: roads/

Carole R
Carole R8 months ago

It is one of the worst things ever.

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney8 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney8 months ago

Forever in my mind Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney8 months ago

You necer forget them Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis Whitney8 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

michela c
michela c8 months ago

Always miss my past beloved dogs. I don't replace any of them in my heart, but I give a chance to other old furry babies in need.

Marie W
Marie W10 months ago

Thank you

One Heart i
Carl Rosenstockabout a year ago