The Loss of a Pet

Grief is probably the most confusing, frustrating and emotional thing that a person can experience. It is even more so for bereaved pet owners, when society in general does not give them “permission” to grieve openly. Consequently, they often feel isolated and alone.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ”      ~ Anatole France

The human-animal bond

Here are some of the reasons why the loss of a pet can be especially heartbreaking: 

  • Our relationships with our pets are unique with special bonds; they are like no other relationship we have in our lives. Our pets offer us unconditional love and support. They are always there for us, no matter what kind of mood we are in. 
  • Our pets see us through the many different transitions of our lives: childhood, graduation from high school or college, a serious illness, a move or job change, loss of friends and family, or even the death of a parent or significant other. Pets are often the one constant, comforting and dependable relationship through difficult and changing times. 
  • Sometimes we spend more time with our pets than with anyone else. Or we might share more with our pet than with anyone else – our true feelings and moods, crying and talking. This intimacy intensifies the relationship and leaves a big gap when the pet is gone. 
  • Our animal companions bring out the best in us, so when we lose them, we often feel we have lost part of ourselves. 
  • They teach us how to become better at giving out love and acceptance. They make it safe for us to love them with all of our hearts so our capacity to give of ourselves expands. So naturally the loss feels larger, too. 
  • We feel a unique sense of self with our pets. They touch our very souls, so we feel that loss, that emptiness, from our deepest essence. 
  • Our pets become part of our identity: I was Misty-Mae's mom, Mugsy's buddy. We like who we are and who we become with them. 
  • Our pets give us a sense of purpose and meaning because they depend on us to take care of their basic needs. We feel good about ourselves when we are involved in all the demands of caregiving for a seriously ill pet. 
  • Pets fill our basic need for physical touch and affection. Our arms feel empty when we can no longer hold, cuddle and snuggle with our beloved pets. 
  • A pet loss can be extra difficult because some of our friends, family, and co-workers may not understand. They might say something like “Get over it … it’s only an animal.” 

Rainbow Bridge is a beautiful poem for loving pet parents.  Click on the link below to download.

Rainbow Bridge