After the Loss of a Pet…

How could it be that I loved someone so much that had never spoken a word to me? Was it the kisses on the cheek or the snuggles on the couch? Or maybe it was his constant calming presence in my home and his fun-loving nature. How could so much joy come in fluffy, fifteen-pound package? My miniature schnauzer offered wonderful companionship. Sadly, his life was cut short this summer due to a tragic accident. After his passing, I told a friend there was a schnauzer shaped hole in my heart. While some may say he was “just a dog,” to me he was so much more.
So, what is one to do after the loss of the pet? While grieving the death of a pet looks different for everyone, here are a few ideas that may be helpful.
Allow yourself time and space to feel. I feel sad because he’s gone. Maybe even mad because of how it happened. I feel lonely because he isn’t here anymore. And I feel happy thinking back on all the fun memories I shared with my beloved pet.
Hang onto a physical reminder of your pet. Maybe it is a collar or a scarf or a toy. My child put our schnauzer’s collar around one of the stuffed animals and snuggles it at night.
Frame your favorite picture of your pet. Or create a scrapbook. Or journal.
Donate your pet’s food to the local animal shelter. Going through your pet’s belongings and donating the items to a local animal shelter or friends or family with other pets may help to bring healing.
Create a memorial. Plant a tree or shrub in memory of your pet. Add a sculpture or rock to your landscaping. My family decided to place an engraved stone outdoors in memory of our dog.
While the grieving process may be unique to each individual and situation, if the sadness and grief impair your daily ability to function for an extended period, please seek professional counseling.
“If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.”

Amy is an intern at Lighthouse Counseling. While currently pursuing her MA degree in Counseling from Crown College, Amy’s educational background also includes a BS degree in Psychology from Crown College and professional training from Denver University in Animal and Human Health. Other professional experience has included work in the areas of youth development and caring for adults with disabilities.. Read More

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