Punxsutawney, United States

Send BubbleMail

How to Cope With the Loss of a Pet

How to Cope With the Loss of a Pet
By Laurie Saloman
Reviewed by QualityHealth’s Medical Advisory Board

For many of us, a pet is a valued member of the family. In honor of the love, support, companionship and acceptance they show us, we celebrate their birthdays, buy them gifts, and provide top-notch medical care. We brag about their accomplishments, keep photos of them on our desks, and add their names to the holiday cards we send. Some people even consider their pets their children.

What happens, then, when we lose our beloved animal companions? Not surprisingly, the grief we feel may be intense. A study conducted at the University of Hawaii’s animal science department of 106 pet owners found that almost a third experienced grief that lasted six months or more after their pet’s death. Twelve percent reported that their grief caused major disruptions in their lives.

For older people, losing a pet may hit particularly hard. Seniors who live alone can feel lost and empty without a cuddly cat to curl up with or a frisky dog who gets them out of the house every morning. Since most elderly people have experienced some form of loss, the death of a pet can be a painful reminder of the passing of other loved ones. It can also be a reminder of one’s own mortality. While for many younger people, the decision to get another pet to fill the void is a given, for older people the situation is more complicated. Should an 80-year-old adopt an animal that may well outlive her by several years? Is that 80-year-old equipped to care for a new animal physically and financially?

If you’ve lost your animal companion and are having a hard time dealing with it, it’s important to take steps to help yourself. Here are some things you can do:

  • Make a special effort to reach out to friends and family. You need to feel connected to other living beings the way you were connected to your pet.
  • Call a pet-loss hotline. Staffers are trained to deal with grieving animal owners.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter or humane society. It may give you a boost to realize there are other animals who need you and can give you affection.
  • Allow yourself time to grieve. Cry if you want to, and let others know you’re hurting. Talk about your pet with understanding friends. If you feel your grief is paralyzing or going on for too long, talk to a mental-health professional.


  • vigor
    vigorover 1 year ago

    This is a subject that makes my heart break just thinking about it. I know how I feel about the little furry lives that I am responsible for and they are getting up in age and I know one day I will not have them. I cry just thinking about that. I lost my dear cat several years ago and his death was tragic and I never thought I’d ever own another one, but we now have a new kitten who has filled us with alot of joy as he does the same things our other one did. It’s almost like his spirit has returned to us one more time. I just treasure and enjoy them all each and every day while they are still with me and I thank God for giving them to me to have this long.

  • autumnwind
    autumnwindover 1 year ago

    I couldn’t get out of bed for days when my dog passed 2 and a half years ago. Grief is different for a pet, perhaps because of their loyal, unconditional gift of love. I don’t know. Probably should have reached out myself, but had no encouragement to do so. We have our older cat who would be traumatized by another dog, so that has remained out of the question. It is still difficult, as I have never really been without a dog, but love my cat so much I couldn’t do that to her. Giving her all my love for now because she deserves it. Has always played second fiddle to our dog, if you know what I mean, and now loves being queen of our house for sure.
    Helpful advice, thanks Viv. xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoox

  • I sure do know what you are saying and I was wondering if bringing a new kitten in might not be a good idea since my dogs are set in their ways. I don’t ever want them to feel like a second fiddle and we still give them both the attention they always had. They are so loyal and when they aren’t around anymore there is such a huge hole left in your heart.

    – vigor

  • George Coombs
    George Coombsover 1 year ago

    Yes, I have also been in this kind of situation and can empathise with what you are saying, you have covered this very difficult topic very well indeed

  • Thank you George, pets are so good in so many ways and when they pass, we are devastated by their absence.

    – vigor

  • PatChristensen
    PatChristensenover 1 year ago

    They are our outreach our comfort ones who always listen our friends our love ones. the lost is difficult but the memories bind us and give us the happy moments to remember, I know my photos give me lots of pleasure and good feelings about each and everyone. My situation is different as I have many indoor home pets but also care for many outside feral cats/kittens and their loss is felt just as hard although most only have a life span of 3 years I cherish the time I have with them. It is a hard cruel life they have and just disappearing is a part of that cycle one gets used to it but it still hurts. Having good friends to turn to and their images keep me going. Great write up and important hugs :)Pat

  • I get very attached very quickly and it would break my heart to not see those cats come back because it’s the not knowing that hurts. There is definitely a connection between man and animals.

    – vigor

  • autumnwind
    autumnwindover 1 year ago

    As far as a new kitten goes, I’ve thought of it many times. But cats are strange, and even when I had two as kittens (one being my Willow) and just a year apart, they NEVER got along at all. So very strange. So that idea played around in my head for a while, but we decided not to, just in case. And Pat, I have a few strays too, one for more than ten years! Would break my heart if anything happened, they are all very loving too. xxx

  • The cat I had hated other cats so I know what you’re saying. He didn’t mind the dogs though.

    – vigor

  • Dlouise
    Dlouiseover 1 year ago

    Very nicely done, Viv. I know myself with Denoli passing a couple of months ago,,it was very difficult, but she was very sick and I would have not wanted her to suffer in pain. I am so thankful for the 6 years I had with her and I know she had a happy and adventurous life with us in those years. I am so glad I was with her when she went, and we said our goodbyes to each other with hugs and kisses.

  • For sure on that one D. I would not want to see my pet suffer as it’s kinder to let them go. But the loss of their company is the hard part when they aren’t there anymore, but it does get better through time and maybe even another pet eventually. We need our furry friends.

    – vigor

  • JohnDSmith
    JohnDSmithover 1 year ago

    In way it`s harder when you lose a pet,…..Many people just do not understand the lose your going through,..

  • Anyone who doesn’t understand pets will never understand that loss. Some people just regard as them an object and not a friend and they can be easily replaced or dismissed. I just can’t do that! Once they make a way into my home, they are in my heart too and called ‘family’.

    – vigor