How Do You Deal With The Death Of A Pet?

How do you deal with the death of a pet?

Dealing with the death of a pet is an experience that all of us who love animals go through at some point. But do we all experience grief and loss in the same way? The answer is no. Grief may be a universal phenomenon, but the ways we deal with grief can vary greatly. It often depends, among other things, on cultural and religious factors (Marqués, 2003).

When we lose people, we grieve. In the same way, we express our sadness when we lose our pets. But what makes people mourn the death of a pet? The reason is very simple. For the bond that had formed between humans and the pet was such that the pet was part of the family (Field, Gavish, Orsini, & Packman, 2009).

People who do not accept suffering will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives

Thelma Duffey (2005), Ph. D. at the University of Texas, San Antonio, confirms that people genuinely experience the death of a pet as something painful. To this suffering we must also add the cultural taboos associated with the grief over the loss of an animal. A large part of the population usually does not understand this pain. This makes the grieving process even more difficult.

The special bond between people and their pets

Many people develop a special bond with their pet. But there are also others who do not develop attachment. As a result, they are unable to appreciate the relationship between humans and animals. The people who don’t understand this relationship tend to underestimate the loss. They may even include comments such as “It was only a dog,” “Just buy another one,” and “Why are you so sad about an animal?”.

But the death of a pet can be one of the most difficult moments in a person’s life. Yet socially it is not recognized that it has the same emotional impact as when we experience the loss of a human being. The Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii (United States) has conducted a study on this. According to this study, 30% of owners feel the pain for a period of six months or more. For 12% it is a very traumatic event in their lives.

How can we deal with the grief of the death of a pet?

The grieving process consists of four stages. They are the same stages we experience when someone close to us dies:

  • At this stage we are not yet able to come to terms with the loss. We then use negation. Because we deny what happened as a defense mechanism to delay the impact. Here we give you some practical advice. It is best to remove or store your pet’s toys.
  • We express our feelings: sadness, depression or anger. As a result of the loss we can feel so many things. To relieve these emotions, we must not try to hold back those tears. We also don’t have to pretend to feel okay when we don’t. But we have to let go of our emotions and express them. So what we really need to do is let ourselves feel the loss and let the tears flow. Because this is all part of the healing process.
  • At this stage, we begin to process the emptiness our pet has left behind. We are aware of all the daily routines that we had built up together with our pet. Maybe we didn’t even realize that some routines were such an important part of our lives. We went for a walk with the dog and played in the park. We relaxed on the couch together. What we need to do now is create new routines.
  • We will remember our pet in different ways. This all has to do with looking to the future and moving forward on the road to recovery. By doing this we will remember the immense love we felt for them.
Grieving the death of a pet

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it’s done

We all experience similar situations but in different ways. Because not all of us will take the same amount of time to recover from the grieving process of the death of a pet.

Some of us choose to get another pet. Others make the choice to live without a pet. We don’t have to feel bad if we decide to get another pet. Because we must realize that it is not a matter of ‘replacement’. But we are embarking on a new path full of new routines and wonderful experiences with our new pet.


Duffey, T. (2005). Saying goodbye: Pet loss and its implications. Journal of creativity in Mental

Health 1 (3/4), 287-295. doi: 10.1300 / J456v01n03_18

Field, N., Gavish, R., Orsini, L. & Packman, W. (2009). Role Attachment in Response to Pet Loss. Death Studies, 33, 334-355. doi: 10.1080 / 07481180802705783

Marquis, N.M. (2003). From the experience of mourning: Reflections on the Meanings of Death and Lifetime. Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Ponce, PR

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