What it feels like to lose a pet

This is a letter we received from a memorial owner at ILovedMyPet.com. We thought it might be helpful to some people if we were to share it.

Polly’s Song

By Apara Mahal Sylvester

January 2000

I had moved to Germany from China and I had Zhangy, my cat from China.  I wanted a companion for him so I went to the animal shelter to find one.  It was there that I first saw her. She had one eye and when I questioned the shelter worker about her missing eye she told me that something had been wrong with it so it had been removed.  I couldn’t bear the thought of her being overlooked because of her one eye so I decided that she was the cat I was going to take.  She was about 6 months old.

Her name was Polly.

Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

I brought Polly home in a carrier, and placed her on the floor in the kitchen.  Zhangy came to sniff her, and she hissed at him.  He seemed interested in her for a few minutes, then he retreated to the bedroom. 

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A Friend and Companion: Coping with the Loss of a Pet

When it comes to personal loss, there’s no such thing as “insignificant” grief – the pain of losing a pet can be just as intense as losing a friend or family member. After all, our pets become part of the family, and that’s what makes them so endearing. When a pet dies, you don’t just lose an animal. You lose a friend and the comforting presence of a loving companion.  Here are a few tips that can make it just a little easier to cope with the loss of a pet:

Allow yourself time to grieve

Some people may believe that a pet’s death doesn’t warrant the full range of emotions one normally feels after the death of someone close. But it’s important to remember that the pain you’re feeling is an expression of the love you have for your pet, and the oppressive realization that death has created a void in your life. Slow things down, and give yourself time to work through the grief. Take time off from work, if necessary, and reach out to someone who understands how much you cared for your pet.

Address your physical needs

Don’t be surprised if you experience a loss of appetite, have trouble sleeping, or feel unmotivated. Those are natural reactions to the grieving process. Make sure you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy, and don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. If you’re tossing and turning, try getting to bed at the same time each night, and stick with that routine so your body is re-accustomed to a healthy sleep pattern. If it helps, do some light reading or meditate before going to bed – it can help you achieve a sense of peace and inner stillness. Take part in activities you enjoy; give your mind and body a break from the pain you’re feeling.

Closure – honor your pet

Consider holding a family internment ceremony at home during which everyone verbalizes their feelings. If you have children, encourage them to tell your pet how much he meant to them. It can be a cathartic experience, a healthy way to engage in emotional sharing, and an outlet for someone who has trouble expressing deeply-felt emotions. If you or a family member is having a difficult time coping with the grief, look into an online bereavement program that can help you heal or other excellent online bereavement resources. Remember, the sorrow that you are feeling is perfectly valid and needs to be expressed. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Practice a calming activity

If there’s an activity or daily routine you find reassuring, don’t neglect it. Anything that brings peace and spiritual reassurance at a time of profound loss should be embraced. It could be anything, from reading a favorite passage from the Bible to watching a TV program or movie you find emotionally uplifting. Exercise also has therapeutic value when you’re hurting. It activates endorphins, chemicals in the brain that produce a natural euphoric feeling. Finding a source of inner strength can help contextualize your loss, which is an important part of the healing process. 

Getting a new pet

Think twice if your response to a pet’s death is to get a new one right away. That may not be advisable, because bringing a new pet home before you’ve worked through the grieving process can make the transition difficult. Consider waiting until you have the energy and motivation to become a pet parent once again.  Grief is one of the strongest of all emotions and it needs an outlet, so don’t dismiss the need to grieve when a much-loved pet dies. Pets often have a powerfully-emotional hold on us, so don’t feel odd or uncomfortable about grieving over your loss or about asking for help with your grief.

How to Prepare Yourself for Your Pet’s Death

How to Prepare Yourself for Your Pet’s Death

Your pet is an important part of your life but you have to acknowledge that he/she will not live forever. For this reason, you must do your best to ensure the best possible comfort, as well as spend as much time as you can together. As your dog will get older, you have to prepare yourself for the unavoidable. Here are a few measures that you can take, so that you are better prepared for when the moment arrives.

Forming memories will help you remember your beloved pet

Like humans, dogs age and become sick. As his/her owner, the most important thing is that you spend time together and form memories that you are going to cherish when he/she will no longer be around. You can take a walk every day, play catch or just spend some together in the back yard. Your dog thrives from your physical presence, so try to be there for him/her.

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How to be There for Someone who has Lost Their Dog


It never gets easy.

For most people, losing a beloved dog is like losing a family member. For pet parents, losing a fur baby is like losing a child. It hurts, and it often feels like there’s a void that big enough to swallow the sun.

The grief, emptiness and sadness one feels during the loss of a dog can be profound. Whether it’s a friend or family member dealing with a recent passing, your job is to be there to support them during the grieving process.

Here’s how to get it done the right way.

pet loss

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Pet loss: Five Positive Ways You Can Change After the Loss of a Pet

5 ways personal growth results from the grief of losing a dog

Dogs form incredible connections with their humans. It’s indescribable how much a dog can love its owner. A dog’s insatiable need to be close to and loved by their human is a mysterious and beautiful thing that’s been observed for centuries. 

The depth and strength of a relationship with a dog can be equal to that which occurs in close human relationships. Probably the most heartbreaking truth about this companionship is that in nearly all cases, the dog is going to pass away long before the owner does. Therefore, no matter how much someone loves their dog, a day will likely come when their loss must be dealt with. 

Inevitably, every dog owner will need to go through this harsh reality at some point. When man loses his best friend, there is a painful grieving period that could be as long-lasting as that of a human loss. Sadly, society often fails to recognize the sheer impact that the grief that comes from losing a dog is able to create, and many people will have to face this bereavement without much support. The following are five ways in which the grief of losing a dog can lead to personal growth.

pet loss grief

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