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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Coping with the Loss of a Pet and Celebrating Their Life


Pets offer us many qualities that are sometimes difficult to find in people, such as unconditional love, emotional support, and constant companionship. It's only natural to grieve the loss of someone who brought your life so much joy, even when it's a pet and not a person. You will eventually get to the point of wanting to celebrate the life of your pet, but for now, it's important that you allow yourself to grieve.

The Intensity of Grief May Surprise You

If you've never experienced the loss of a pet before, you may feel blindsided by your grief. This is true whether your dog or cat died suddenly or you had to make the decision to end your pet's life due to his or her suffering. In addition to sadness, you may experience guilt, anger, and fear. When you've had the chance to process more fully, you may even find yourself becoming withdrawn and depressed. If that happens to you, be sure to reach out for support to friends and family who don't belittle your loss. A support group or professional counseling may also be appropriate.

Honoring Your Pet's Memory

Your pet was in your life for many years and his or her life mattered. Engaging in rituals that honor and celebrate the love that you shared can go a long ways towards helping you heal. Some ideas you may wish to consider include:

  • Plant a living memorial in honor of your pet, such as a tree, flowers, or a plant. You may even want to place a plaque near it listing your animal friend's name and the years of birth and death.
  • Scatter your pet's ashes in a meaningful place. If you choose to have your pet cremated, spreading the ashes on his or her favorite place in the yard or a special hangout can bring you peace.
  • Create a scrapbook. Gathering photos, letters from family, and your pet's personal items together in one place can bring a smile to your face years after your furry family member passes on.

Always remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve or honor the memory of your pet. At Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, we are here to help any way we can. We encourage you to check our Pet Loss Resources tab on our website.


Image credit:  Pojoslaw |