“A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered.”
— Lacie Petitto

There is nothing in the world quite like the experience of having a pet share our lives. Pets are there for us when we return home from work and school with wagging tails, cold noses, and total acceptance. They are our best friends, and accept us for who we are without question, with unconditional love.

But one day, our beloved pet will no longer be a constant in our lives. And it can be difficult to cope with the loss and grief that accompanies such a staggering loss.

After you’ve said the final goodbye, it’s completely normal to feel a sense of loss and sorrow. You may feel signs of grief, including anger, denial, guilt, or depression. These feelings can be extremely intense, sometimes surprising friends and family members. Daily life can seem impossible, and the simplest of tasks become overwhelming.

Remember, grieving is a personal process, and everyone experiences it differently, at their own pace. It’s important to take the time to work through your own personal sorrow. Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s crazy to grieve, or that you’re being silly or sentimental.

When you feel the time is right, consider holding a memorial service or ritual of some type. This does not have to be big or fancy. Consider planting a tree, creating a photo album, holding a ceremony in the local dog park, writing down cherished memories, or making a donation to a local animal organization.

While friends and family can be pillars of support, they can sometimes not realize the intensity of your grief, or how important your pet was and still is. Sometimes they can say things that may accidentally hurt your feelings. If you have difficulty talking with your friends or family, a trusted clergyman or a pet loss support group or hotline may be able to provide a much-needed shoulder. That’s why Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota offers a Pet Loss Support Group that meets at our Oakdale location on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 7-8:30pm.

The group is facilitated by Heidi Brenegan. She, along with other grieving pet owners who attend the group, can provide some insight into what the loss of a pet means, along with just being there to listen and understand. We don’t require reservations for our group, but they are appreciated so that we know whom to expect. Please call (651) 501-3759, ext 114, if you plan to attend!

If you need to, don’t hesitate to call a pet loss support hotline. They are always willing to talk with you, offer a shoulder, or even just listen.

Grief Recovery Hotline: 800-445-4808
Iowa State University Pet Loss Support Hotline: 888-478-7574
University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine: 612-625-3770