How Are You Coping with Pet Loss?

It has been a year since my family lost the goodest girl, Nuka, and I know I still struggle with coping with loss. Of course, social media doesn’t let you forget either (which can be a blessing and a curse), but this year it brought back a lot of big emotions. This got me to thinking…how are you coping with pet loss?

This will probably be a little shorter of a blog post, because, I am writing it almost as a question to myself as well as to you. Are you still working through your grief? Do you have a support system or people close to you that can help you through this time? How are you remembering your fur baby?

Coping with Pet Loss
Beckham and Nuka April 2022

Does Time Heal All Wounds When Coping with Pet Loss?

The old adage “Time heals all wounds” seems to be out of place when speaking of loss. When you lose a pet, the grief can be so strong that it feels like it overpowers every other emotion.

Over time, grief begins to wane; however, I don’t believe it ever goes away. Certain memories or even small movements can trigger the grief all over again.

The Closet Door

As an example, this past week, my husband shut our bedroom closet door and I immediately thought of how Nuka always slept in our closet…so I had to open the closet door for her, even though she is no longer with us. This memory, as small as it seems, caused a restless night, full of tears.

My husband even will see a movement in the backyard and think Nuka is running and playing. It takes a moment to remember she has been gone for a year.

Scars On Our Heart

All in all, time doesn’t heal our wounds in their entirety; however, it leaves a scar on our hearts. It shows us that we did love with all of our being and the pets that have passed over the rainbow bridge have left a definite impact on our lives.

At first, scars are red, angry, and they hurt! You are more likely to scratch at them and open up the wound, and grief overflows. Over time, the scar gets less angry, painful, and grief doesn’t come as often. When the scar heals, you still have a reminder of the loss, and you may grieve on occasion; however, the pain is not as it once was.


Do You Have A Support System While Coping With Pet Loss?

I know this sounds like a silly question…but think about it. Do you have people who you can talk to while going through the grieving process? Even if it is one person, that can be the difference between coping with your loss and remaining in a dark place.

Who Do I Talk To?

Ok, Kelly, seriously…do you think I would talk to someone I don’t trust? Maybe…but I think it is something to think about. Many of us have family members who will support us through our grieving process, but sometimes that may not be enough.

You have a few options:

1. A Professional Counselor/Therapist: They are trained / qualified to work with you through your grieving process. They will be able to provide ideas on how you can get through this difficult time in your life… Pets have become such an integral part of our lives that the therapist will have a range of tools to help you through.

2. Support Groups: If you are not as interested in talking 1×1, group therapy is always an option. You should be able to research groups in your area or reach out to your local veterinarian or rescue shelter and they can direct you to a group that will work for you.

3. An Online Forum/Social Media Group: I have seen a number of these popping up on Facebook and Instagram, and I am sure there are other platforms that help people who are coping with pet loss. The one thing I would caution is that these are not necessarily moderated by professionals, but are just normal people like us.

I think one of the most important aspects to coping with pet loss is to talk to somebody…to have a support system that will help you and encourage you on your grief journey.

6 Ways to Keep Your Pet’s Spirit Alive

During the grieving process, it also helps to find a way to memorialize your pet. It will keep the good memories alive and help you remember your pet when they were in good health.

Here are a few ideas on how to memorialize your pet:

1. Creative Writing: One of the things I have found to help is writing about my pets…I started this blog because I wanted to write about Roc and Aprilia who passed away, and in turn, I have been able to write articles on grief as well as how to keep pets healthy for a longer life. Even if you don’t want to write a blog, take time to create a story of your pet.

2. Art: I have seen a number of artists who create beautiful portraits and memorials for family pets. If you have an artistic bend, creating art to remember your pet may help memorialize your own loved one.

3. Create a memorial garden: I think this is a beautiful idea to where you can create a specific area in your garden or create a garden to memorialize your pet. You can put a wind chime or a memorial stone in one of your pet’s favorite outdoor areas. If you are in an apartment or condominium, maybe adding a little herb garden in the window may work best.

4. Tattoos: This idea is one that I have done and will do again. If you don’t shy away from needles, a tattoo is a great permanent remembrance for your pet. I had Nuka’s paw print tattooed above my heart. There are so many ideas online, but I would trust a reputable tattoo artist to help you design something specific for you and your pet.

Nuka's Paw Print

5. Plan a Memorial Service: Invite friends and family to a small service to remember your pet. You can include a photo album / slideshow of your pet, and have friends/family share their memories. You can even bury your pet or spread ashes to help with the closure.

6. Volunteer at a Shelter in Their Memory: This idea may not happen right away based on how you deal with grief and how long it takes you to process each stage of grief. When you are ready, take time to research some local shelters to see which one you would prefer to volunteer with. If you are uncomfortable volunteering or don’t have time (or are afraid that you want to take all the pets home!), many rescues accept donations in memory of your pet or a loved one.

Remember: Healing Takes Time When Coping With Pet Loss

The biggest take-away I have when it comes to coping with pet loss is that it takes time. And…the time it takes is different for everyone, so be gracious to yourself.

There are 5 stages of grief we all go through. Take your time with each stage; don’t rush yourself through the process.

Also, don’t let others rush you through the process either. Surround yourself with people who will support you and love you regardless of where you are.


Pets have become an integral part of our families. When one passes over the rainbow bridge, the grief can be just as difficult as it is when we lose a human family member. This means we coping with pet loss is important to our health and well-being.

Processing grief may take time, but as long as you can talk to someone about what you are dealing with and/or you can remember your pet in a positive way, you will get through this hard time.

Let me know if you have a specific way to cope with the loss of a pet. Are there any gift or memorial items you have purchased to remember your pet?

20 thoughts on “How Are You Coping with Pet Loss?”

  1. It can be difficult to get out of grieving your lost pets. I remember when we lost Rolly (Our bitch). Rolly was friendly. Her tail was one of the most fascinating parts of her body. Any time she sits near me, she has her way of disturbing the hell out of me with her tail. I did not appreciate it until we lost her. But we had her pictures. And as a family, we kept talking about her. We brought in another dog (Chase), but she was different. Each of them had her uniqueness

    1. Isn’t it interesting how a behavior or pet has can be so annoying when they are with us…but so missed when they are gone? Roc, my first Malamute used to sing for his food, which got to be super aggravating (because I had babies at the time), but now, I miss it terribly.

      You are correct in that every pet is unique. I believe that is what makes them amazing and a great asset to their families. It would be difficult to have a pet so similar to one we lost as we would most likely compare the two, and that’s not fair.

      Thank you so much for your comments!

  2. Losing a pet is one of the most challenging experiences for any pet owner. It’s like losing a part of yourself, and it can be hard to cope with the loss. My experience with pet loss has been incredibly difficult, especially since my pet was my best friend and companion. I struggled to accept the reality of his passing and found myself feeling lost without him. However, I found solace in knowing that he lived a happy life filled with love and care. To keep his spirit alive, I decided to create a photo album filled with his pictures and memories, which I often look at when I miss him. I am curious to know how other handle their pets lose

    1. I totally agree that dealing with the loss of a pet is extremely difficult. They have become our best friends and companions.  Your idea of a photo album is wonderful! It helps when you have something tangible to look through…to remember the good times with your pet. Like you, I am interested in hearing how others memorialize their beloved pets!

      Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. Nothing is more frustrating than losing a pet that leaves behind children. My cat Miilou was really adorable and had just had 5 kittens, two weeks after his loss, it was really hard for all of us because not only did we really miss Milou but the 5 kittens had a way of meowing that really broke our hearts. However, the sight of them always reminded us of Milou.

    1. I can understand how devastating that could be. Losing a valued member of the family, while caring for her offspring. I hope that the kittens are able to bring back beautiful memories of Milou and not just sad memories with their tiny meows. Do any look just like her or have her mannerisms?

  4. We have come through a difficult period of grief.  When we lost Yukon, a beagle mix, at the age of 22 we were thankful for all the years with her but suffering terribly from the lost.  We had some tasteful photos of memories put up.  For a long time, we did not put her toys away or move her bed.  Eventually we began to donate to organizations that supported dogs and placed them.  After a period of time, we decided to get a puppy who was also a beagle mix.  We make use of some of Yukons toys, harnesses, jackets etc. for Sage.  It is nice to remember times we had with Yukon we see an item.  But it is fun to see Sage use it in a different way.  Grieving for a lost pet is importnat as you have pointed out.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss! Yukon sounds like an amazing member of your family. I am glad  your new puppy, Sage, can use the toys and supplies that Yukon used. It must be fun to see how differently Sage uses the products versus remembering how Yukon used them. Such sweet memories!

  5. Losing a loved pet is tough and it’s the habits and memories those first couple of years that make it linger. As you mentioned the closet and your husband seeing something outside and just instinctively thought it was Nuka, the scar analogy you made highlights this.
    My last dog loved being under my feet, as I got out of bed in the morning I had to be very cautious not to step or trip over him. Of course it took me long time (and many morning stumbles) to develop this habit, after he passed I would still get out of bed cautiously as not to trip in him. There are still times I get out of bed that way but , every morning I still always remember him.

    1. Isn’t it weird how our pets leave such an imprint on our lives? Knowing your last dog loved to be under foot and how you moved around him in the mornings…and continuing that even after he was gone, shows how valued he was (and is). Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  6. Hi Kelly,

    This is such an affectionate and helpful article for people who have lost pets recently or in the past.

    My niece and nephew were the first in our family to get a lovely little dog years ago that became part of our family. He was a Labrador called Ben and was a beautiful soul. He even rocked my niece to sleep when she was in her baby rocker…such a beautiful sight.

    I appreciate you sharing your story too and I hope you are well and keep growing.

    I am going to share this article with my brother and sister-in-law as it will help them and my niece and nephew to cope with the loss of Ben.

    Keep up the great work and keep helping people.

    All the best,


    1. Thank you so much Tom! I hope the article helps your family with the loss of Ben. He sounds like such a beautiful soul (like many Labs are!) It is so sweet that he would rock your niece to sleep.

      Thank you for the comments! Let me know how your brother and sister-in-law like the post. There are also other posts regarding the 5 stages of grief, memorial gift ideas, and how to help kids cope with loss as well.

  7. Hi there, I’ve got a little dog here myself who’s unfortunately already quite old. I’m not losing him just yet, but I’m already looking for ways to cope with his loss as the vet said it won’t take a very long time anymore. It’s such a weird sensation, I found him when he was 5 years old already but in a short time, he got so attached to me. Now, having to let him go soon, is the scariest feeling I’ve had in such a long time! I’m going to keep on to this article, but I know now already that these support tips are really great to hold on to, to make sure I get the support I’d need whenever the moment comes when I have to let go of my little Hercules. Thank you for sharing and a lot of strength to you as well with your loss.

    1. I understand how you feel. We adopted Nuka when she was 5yrs old too and she quickly became an amazing part of our family. I hope you have more time with your little dog! If needed, you can always check out some of my other blogs on how to cope with loss as well as the 5 stages of grief.

  8. Sorry to hear about your dog. When your pet dies it truly sucks! How old was your dog when it passed?

    I do like the idea of starting a memorial garden! I like working in my garden and it would be a great way to remember your pet. I did recently purchase a custom stone that someone made on Etsy that had my Persian cat Bulls-Eye engraved on it.

    1. Oh my goodness! I can imagine the custom stone is absolutely beautiful! Nuka was 11 when she passed away last year. I was hoping for more years with her, but it wasn’t in the cards.

      Thank you so much for your comments!

  9. @brikel
    Hello @Brikel! I just finished reading your post. <3 I am so sorry for the loss of your Nuka girl. :'( I know the feeling. Just this past year around Christmas, (I don't have pets in my own home aside from our cat Luna, and I love her ever so much!) but, we travel on weekends a lot and my life partner and I both work during the week so we figure a dog wasn't the best choice for us.

    My parents however, have tons of pets. Pets who I literally helped and cared for and raised since the day they were born. A lot of which, we kept because it just broke our hearts to let go of them since we had gotten to know and love them so much. Let me tell you about my Bear. My bear also a girl, was born from a litter of pups from 2 of our dogs a couple years ago.

    She was like picture if a Newfoundlander dog was micro-small compared to their usual size. She was the spitting image of that! She was a mix between her parents breeds (dad is an Australian Shepherd – Hound mix, mom is a Shepherd- Pitbull-lab mix) (mom looks bully-chihuahua cute little scrappy girl lol, dad is your classic noisy hound).

    Bear was one of their pups. I fell in love with my Bear. From the minute she was born. When it was time for her to go to a new home, I didn't want her to. But, a lovely young couple decided they wanted to adopt Bear. However, after about 1 weeks of having Bear with them, we got a call, the woman was a nurse, so she slept during the day, working 12 hour shifts at night.

    And Bear (she was a noisy girl when she didn't get her way, or attention coming her way!) she would sit at the foot of this woman's bed and bark, incessantly. And the lady had finally had it. She had never had a dog, much less a puppy ever before.

    And she was calling to say, could I return her to you? :/ My mother hummed and hawed over what we should decide as a family, we already had kept 2 of the puppies from our litter of puppies. My father was not pleased with the final decision but low n' behold, I made enough fuss over their decision of not wanting to keep her. That they said, FINE, but you get to be the one who looks after her.

    (That changed when I moved out from their home a couple of years ago, to live with my life partner, my parents live on a 20 acre farm, I felt Bear would be happier there where she could roam and I could visit when I wanted to.)

    I would visit on occasions for dinner, or when I needed to grab some of my things from my parents place (my parents live 45 minutes from where I live). I didn't visit as much as I would have liked to. I own my own business with my dad, so lots of times he tells me important things once I'm at work, and one of the days he had mentioned to me, "just wanted to let you know, Bear has been acting a little weird lately, your mom and I are thinking of taking her to the vet for a check up."

    It was winter, just before Christmas, 2 days after my dad had told me about Bear being a little under the weather herself. I wake up at 4am, and I don't have a voice, I have a sore throat. I stumble quietly into my bathroom to take a hot shower for some relief, and then wake my husband up to ask him if he can bring me to the hospital because I think I may have some sort of cold or strep throat going on. I'm exhausted, barely any sleep.

    I wait 3+ hours in the ER, finally I get seated in a check-up office on my own. It's quiet. And my mobile rings. And it's my mom. And she has news. The WORST possible news. I was already sleep deprived, feeling horrid, and now… on the other end of the phone is my mother who says:

    "Cal, I'm so sorry, but, we took Bear for a check-up, and the vet told us that she has a rare blood disease, and there's nothing we can do, or could have done, and I asked her if we could just keep her comfy at home, and let her go the natural way.

    But, she says with these illnesses what happens is their condition gets worse before it gets better, they start to gradually lose all control of their bodily functions, and eventually pass, but, its painful for them. She told us the best we can do is return to the vet later today and have her put to sleep. "

    If my day hadn't already started bad enough, it just got a heck of a lot worse. :'( I can't talk (even if I wanted to, I had lost my voice from the sore throat) but, what I was able to stifle out was the faintest total release of tears.

    My mother could tell by the pause on the line, and then my screeches and loss of control holding back tears, that I was beyond upset, angry, and there were no words I could say. And worst of all, I wouldn't be able to get to their home in time before work, to be able to say goodbye to my best furry friend. :'( … She was barely 2 years old when she passed peacefully.

    If I'm being entirely honest, Bear was the most "obnoxious" dog we have ever had. Sooo super personality-full. But, super barky, (something my parents didn't love about her!) My parents also have a few cats as well and most of their dogs didn't pay much mind to the cats but, every time one tried to sneak in past the living room to go upstairs into their hiding places, she would chase the cats upstairs, barking all the way.

    She was the dog that when that lovely couple called to tell us "she's a noisy dog, we can't stand her!" My mother said, something like "Yeah… I kind of was hoping you'd look past that, I didn't really want her back in my home either, because of that. :/ "

    But, in a way that was part of her charm, and why I loved her so much. She was loud, boisterous, if you tried to ignore her, she wouldn't let you. My mother in time came around to that conclusion too, despite her noisy demeanor, you always knew she was there. It was like having a cat who wears a collar with a little bell on it. Accept for Bear, that came in the form of her bark.

    My parents have had many lovely dogs over the years, they are not the kind of people who would ever consider living life without dogs in their life constantly. Each of their dogs has a different personality, each of them has their own quirky little issues, but we love them all for their individuality.

    And Bear was just one of those dogs too, but, more so. She was MY dog. When I lived with my parents everyone sort of had "their" own dog they either had picked out over the years, grown up with, or had chosen from a litter of our pups. Our cats are the same lol! When I was like 13 years old, our female cat had an "oops pregnancy." All of our cats to this day came from that litter of kittens, we all have our own cats too lol.

    Bear was one of those dogs that you only get once in awhile, the rare ones. The ones who, when they go, a piece of your heart leaves with them. Not that all dogs don't have that effect. But, the ones who are truly one in a million REALLY have that affect/ effect on you x1000.

    I miss her every day. I will ALWAYS miss her. I talk to her sometimes. Every time I visit my parents and one of our dogs chases our cats I wonder why none of them are barking as they do it. I miss her loudness, her noisy barks.

    Her sister and her would fight for attention, both having collie in their breed mix, they were both quite attention-needing dogs, so if you were petting Bear's sister, Bear would get annoyed and bark until you pet her instead. And then her sister would try to butt in and steal back your attention from Bear.

    I don't think I've ever quite gotten over the loss of her from my life so far. Even writing this, I was tearing up. But, it actually was nice, I needed that. <3 Thank you. <3 I LOVED your article. I think its a very important one!

    I have included a photo for your viewing pleasure. From the left is: my sisters dog (a bloodhound he is the goofiest, loudest, baying, fool of a dog, but I babysat him when he was a tiny pup, and still do sometimes even though he's 2 years old now) his name is Bowie. My sister lives with my parents they put an extension on the back of their house and made her a little tiny home of her own.

    Then there is my parents/ our family dog Odie or Ooboo as we call him all too often (he's the third-wheel uncle, we got him just before our litter of pups was born, he's also a goof, but, just a lazy orange pumpkin of a lab, always just wants to be wherever you are, doing whatever you do all the time.)

    When I'm at my parents' place, he's usually sitting at my feet while I'm cooking in the kitchen, blocking the entry point I need use to open the oven door , and watching for crumbs to drop so he can devour them lol. Then we have my black beauty, my Little Bear<3 (she looks like a mini Newfoundlander dog right?! The wind was blowing that day so her fur doesn't look as puffy and fluffy as it usually did, but normally she was a poof of black fur. lol)

    Awesome article, and again, I'm very sorry for your loss of your Nuka. 🙁 I love your article! And it makes me think maybe I do need to do something to commemorate my Bear. I'm going to think about that. 🙂 <3 Beautiful article! <3

    1. Cal, I absolutely love this story! It is so beautiful and it shows how much you adore Bear. She seemed to be a great little scrappy, but fun loving pup who wanted all the attention you could give! I am so sorry you lost her at such a young age.

      Thank you so much for your comments. I can see how special Bear was and what a great relationship you had with her!

  10. Many good ideas here to get the support necessary when losing a pet who had been a valued member of the family. This brings back memories from years ago when I did some work for Hospice in their Grief Recovery program to support children when losing a pet or family member. Thanks for this valuable advice.

    1. Thanks so much Joseph! I am sure your work in Hospice and Grief Recovery was difficult, but rewarding. Do you have anything to add that will help people cope with the loss of a pet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *