TESTIMONIALS

Personal and Health Impact, Coping, and Self-Care When Your Beloved Pet Dies

Losing a pet can be devastating. Often, other people don’t realize the impact a pet has on our lives, which can make the experience feel isolating. Our relationships with pets are so important that they can affect our mental and physical health, which can suffer when a pet passes. People who are struggling with pet loss can use many strategies to help themselves work through the grieving process.

Pet Loss Can Impact Our Health

Pets can actually make us healthier people. Those who have pets tend to have lower rates of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Some studies have found that they are also less likely to experience loneliness or depression, and more likely to say they are satisfied with their life. So it may be no surprise that when we lose this relationship, our health is affected in a negative way.

Pet Loss and Mental Health

Research shows that when we experience grief, our brains undergo physical changes. These changes can affect our thought processes and emotions. For many people, grief results in feelings of sadness, depression, guilt, anger, anxiety, relief, loneliness, or feeling irritable. Some people experience mental symptoms of grief, which may include confusion, trouble focusing, constant dwelling on your pet, or thinking you see or hear your pet. Loss of an animal companion can also lead to anxiety and depression for some people.

Pet Loss and Physical Health

Grief from pet loss may also lead to physical symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, a hollow feeling in the stomach, tightness in the chest, dry mouth, and aches and pains.

Sometimes, our reactions to grief can be severe. One woman reportedly experienced “broken heart syndrome” after losing her dog. This condition occurs when one chamber of the heart suddenly weakens in response to an emotional or physical stress. Its symptoms are similar to heart attack symptoms. While this condition is rare, it highlights the large effect that grief can have on the body.

Why Losing a Pet is Especially Difficult

It’s common to think that people don’t get that sad after loss of a pet. But research tells us that often, the grief that people feel following loss of an animal companion feels the same as grief following loss of a human companion. In some cases, people report even more intense feelings. This may be because of the special type of relationship we feel with our pets. Often, it feels like a parent-child relationship, and is associated with unconditional love and acceptance, which we don’t always get in our human relationships. Feeling these especially strong feelings after pet loss may take some people by surprise and lead to feeling shame or guilt.

There are many reasons why grieving a pet can be just as or even more difficult than grieving a human:

  • While everyone can understand and empathize with loss of a person, not everyone can grasp how devastating pet loss can be. Some people may make insensitive comments, such as “you can just get another pet,” which adds to the sense that other people don’t understand what we’re going through.
  • We don’t tend to have the same rituals surrounding pet loss as we do with the loss of our fellow humans. This may include not getting as much social support from others. This may lead to feeling like our emotions aren’t valid, and feeling even more isolated.
  • Because some people don’t understand pet loss, we often don’t have as much space to process emotions. For example, pet loss is often not considered a valid reason for taking time off of work. People who have just lost a companion may find it extremely difficult to keep up with normal responsibilities, even though they are expected to keep performing as normal.
  • Because of stigma surrounding grieving during pet loss, some people may find it hard to talk openly about what they are struggling with. Often, people who have lost a pet feel embarrassed or ashamed at the depth of their emotion.

Being hesitant to acknowledge or talk about these strong emotions is common. Not having solid support systems surrounding pet loss can sometimes make processing it more difficult. This may mean that the pet grieving process is more complex and it can take longer for us to move on.

Another difficulty surrounding pet loss that is often unacknowledged is that it leads to changes in a person’s routine. Perhaps a person got used to being woken up in the morning by their hungry cat, or getting exercise through walking their dog. When that pet is gone, a person’s whole daily routine may be thrown off, leaving a person feeling even more lost. Small hassles and disruptions to a person’s routine can easily add up to be just as stressful and harmful to health than bigger events.

Coping and Self-Care Following Pet Loss

People can help themselves following loss by working towards self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin developed a scientific way of thinking about and measuring self-compassion that is based on Buddhist psychology. This definition of self-compassion includes three things: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

Why should people who are experiencing loss think about self-compassion? It can make the grieving process easier to deal with and may help lessen negative thoughts. It can also boost a person’s mental and physical health. People who use more self-compassionate thinking have fewer symptoms of depression and can better manage stress.

Self-Kindness

Self-kindness is a process of acknowledging our pain and not being critical of ourselves for it. Negative emotions are a normal part of grief, and of life.

Awareness is the first step of self-care – it is only by being honest with ourselves that we can then try to give ourselves what we need. Writing down thoughts in a journal or talking things over with a trusted friend can help people sort through their feelings.

When people better understand what they are going through, they can then try to help themselves deal with the emotions. We should make sure to give ourselves time and space to feel all of our emotions, even the bad ones. This may mean that on especially difficult days, we take a break from work or other responsibilities if possible. It also may mean being honest with other people about what we’re going through, rather than pretending everything is fine.

Other ways people can deal with their emotions and practice self-kindness while mourning the loss of a pet include:

  • Having a memorial service or funeral. Some people may choose to bury a pet or spread their ashes in their favorite place. This can help people get a better sense of closure.
  • Reflecting on positive memories by making a list, writing a letter, or choosing a picture to frame and hang in the home.
  • Spending some time in the pet’s favorite places. This may include going to a dog park, taking a walk down a familiar route, or even just spending some time in the yard.

If your emotions are very strong and you’re having a hard time dealing with them, you can consider going to individual or group therapy. Therapists can help people better identify their emotions and learn to work through them to get to a healthier place. This is especially important for people who experience symptoms of anxiety or depression following loss of a pet.

Common Humanity

When dealing with strong negative emotions, it’s easy to feel isolated and that no one else understands. When grieving a pet, remember that other people have also gone through this experience and probably had very similar emotions. You aren’t alone, even if you feel like you’re the only one grieving your pet.

Often, people dealing with pet loss feel like they don’t get validation and support from loved ones. Try reaching out to friends and family when you’re struggling and let them know you could use some extra support. This is especially important for people who live alone, who often experience even stronger feelings of grief and depression following pet loss. If you don’t feel like you’re getting the support you need, you can try connecting with others who are in a similar situation as you, by:

  • Joining an online forum or Facebook group dedicated to pet loss, and sharing your story with others who better understand your experience.
  • Finding an in-person support group in your area. Some animal clinics and therapists’ offices offer this service. These groups can help people feel solidarity with others who are grieving.
  • Reading a book or blog about pet loss to learn about other people’s experiences with death of an animal friend.

Mindfulness

Being mindful means focusing on what is happening in the present, rather than being stuck in the past or overly worrying about the future. Practicing mindfulness can help people deal with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and can help ease emotional distress.

Ways that people can be more mindful include:

  • Making a list of the things you’re thankful for
  • Practicing meditation. There are many books, apps, and YouTube videos that can help teach beginners the basics.
  • Reorganizing your previous routines related to your pets. For example, if you’re used to hanging out with friends at the dog park, find other ways to socialize. This can help the loss not feel so disruptive to your daily life.

It’s also important to make sure to keep meeting your basic needs. It’s common to have changes in appetite or sleep when going through an emotional time. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and eat regularly. Do your best to also take care of others in your household who may need it. Make sure that other family members, especially children, are processing the loss too and receiving comfort when they need it. Maintain routines with other pets as well. Animals can experience grief too, so give them extra attention by playing their favorite games or giving them extra pets.

Moving On After Loss

Each person takes a different amount of time to work through grief. It may seem like some people heal quickly, while others take much longer to come to terms with loss. Ultimately, while we can take steps to care for ourselves during the grieving process, there’s not much anyone can do to control how long it takes to heal. Many people still experience intense symptoms of grief for a year or more following a pet’s death.

Some people may find that getting another pet can help the healing process. Others may find that they aren’t ready to form a relationship with a new pet for a long time. If people do choose to get another pet, they should make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. In some cases, getting a pet too soon may actually make the grieving process harder in the long run. For example, someone may be tempted to get a new pet as a way to distract themselves from negative emotions, rather than working through them. Another issue may be that someone expects a new pet to have the same behaviors or interests as their old pet. This can lead to disappointment when the person finds that they can’t have the same type of relationship with a new pet as they are used to.

Those who aren’t ready to bring another pet into their life can still find ways to have relationships with other animals. Spending time around other animals may help someone feel comforted or may bring a new sense of purpose to their life. For example, a person can:

  • Spend time around friends who have pets
  • Offer to pet-sit for friends, family, or co-workers who are going out of town
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter

Following the loss of a pet, it may seem like nothing will ever be the same again. However, growth and healing are possible in the long run. Researchers have identified a phenomenon that they call posttraumatic growth. This occurs when people take a journey of experiencing hardship, struggling, and then coming out stronger on the other side. When people experience posttraumatic growth, they end up feeling that their life is transformed in a positive way, which may lead to a feeling of self-improvement, more meaningful relationships, or a better appreciation of life. Studies have found that people experiencing pet loss can experience posttraumatic growth. This shows that working through grief and loss can be worth it. People who have pets are better for it, even after their pets leave.

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69 Comments

  1. Margaret Zeuner

    Thank you for this kind article. I just lost my little doggie and I am heartbroken. This truly gave me insight into my feelings. And hope.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Margaret- it is so hard to lose one of our family members- I am glad the article was helpful to you – please take care of yourself.

      Reply
    • Justin

      I lost my sweet Harper last Tuesday.

      We’d been fighting bilateral ear infections (she’s always had trouble with t m since she was a pup) and I just thought it was the ears bothering her so bad.

      She got sick a couple of times and stopped eating. Very lethargic on Tuesday morning so I rushed her to the vet. She had advanced kidney failure. And I was left with no choice.

      I feel so guilty not recognizing it. And guilt over how she would be here by herself while I was a work feeling so bad.

      She was the dog my Mom got me to keep us both company as I was her in home caregiver. I lost my last parent in my Mom in 2019. And now my last link it her and my little furry girl is gone as well.

      What couple of friends I do have, we don’t talk much.
      And what little family I do have left (extended) offered a soft condolence and hasn’t checked in on me sense.

      I feel so alone, and that’s never bothered me before.

      Reply
      • Brynna Connor MD

        Justin, so many losses- I am so sorry- and the connection you had and will always have with your Harper will always be with you. I hope you have some sunny days ahead and can think about the wonderful memories you had with her.

        Reply
      • Linda

        Dear Justin,

        I’m so sorry for your losses during the past couple of years. I won’t go into my story, but I totally understand your feelings of guilt, and I know what a terrible feeling that is. The ONLY consolation is that our beloved animals aren’t feeling any pain anymore – that’s the only thought that gives me comfort. I should not have subjected my poor kitty to a surgery that I thought was going to help her, and I feel awful about it. So I know how bad guilt is, and I share that feeling with you. Time will help some. You sound like a very good person, so try not to be too hard on yourself. Take care.

        Reply
        • Brynna Connor MD

          It is so real. thank you for your comments.

          Reply
  2. Mark

    Glad to see you publish an article on grieving the loss of a pet. I know a lot of people who are seriously affected by this. One friend went into deep depression after her dog died. Thanks for publishing this.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Mark, thank you for your comments. We love our pups so!

      Reply
  3. Terry Wynter

    Thank you for this article, I’m so devastated & heartbroken by the sudden loss of our King Charles Cavalier, I do feel some people don’t understand the loss of a precious little guy, the timing of reading this was what I needed . Thanks again, Terry Wynter

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      So true- Terry- I am sure your precious pup was very well-loved, and I am so very sorry for your loss.

      Reply
  4. Kelly

    Thank you so much for this info. It’s good for pet lovers to know their feelings are validated and they are not alone. I just lost my baby Charlie 5 days ago and my heart is shattered.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Kelly, my heart goes out to you- it is so difficult to lose our pets. I hope that Charlie’s memories are ones that will continue to always make you smile!

      Reply
  5. Stacia

    Thanks, Doctor Connor. We know a lot of people who have struggled mightily after the loss of a pet. This is good info!

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      It is just SO hard to lose our animals who love us so much. thank you for reading, and I am glad it is helping some other readers.

      Reply
  6. Stacia W

    Thank you for this, Dr. Connor. We know many friends who have struggled with the loss of a pet.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      yes, agreed-we love our pets!

      Reply
    • Patti

      We just lost our beloved, sweet, thirteen and a half year old dog…my husband and myself are absolutely devastated by her loss….such feelings of sadness, loneliness and absolute holes in our hearts. I think the worst part was having her in my arms for forty minutes while she was having seizures and taking her last dying breaths on the way to 24 hour emergency hospital.
      The visual just keeps replaying. So painful.

      Reply
      • Brynna Connor MD

        Patti- I am so sorry- It is so difficult. Although of little comfort to you right now, I am so glad you were there to comfort her. I hope you have the most wonderful memories!

        Reply
      • Rachel M Levison

        Hi Patti I really empathize with you as I am going through something very similar. On a Tuesday I made an appointment to euthanize my cat on Thursday. I was planning to spoil her for 2 days and spend quality time with her, since she seemed perfectly stable. After 1 day she had some kind of awful attack which was likely a stroke, and was acting erratically, having trouble breathing and within minutes losing her ability to walk.

        I rushed her to the ER to be put down and I can’t get that image out of my mind of the tiny oxygen mask on her face as she lay in my arms like a baby, before they gave her the injection to put her to sleep. I feel like I have PTSD and I can’t let go of guilt that she suffered.

        Reply
  7. Dee Pierce

    Thank you for this article. My boycat is still here for the moment, but age 18, his health has seriously and suddenly deteriorated to where he is lame and has to be carried everywhere. The vet had no answers for us, even after numerous tests. It appears my husband and I are going to have to make some hard decisions soon and I am just devastated. I want to do what is right for my cat. I view him as my child.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Dee, it is so difficult- I am so sorry- but I am also so thankful that you brought your boycat into your family and have loved him so much!

      Reply
  8. Liz

    I just lost my 18 year old cat last week. She died beside me in bed with her head on my arm. Thank you for your article.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Oh Liz, I am so sorry! The love she must have given you – – and you to her. I am thankful you were right there holding her. Our thoughts are with you.

      Reply
  9. Susan

    my 17 year old “child” passed on the 26th. My beautiful orange boy (cat) pure joy for 17 years. i feel like my soul was ripped out through my feet and i was thrown off a cliff and told here is a new life to live..one i dont recognize…Fireball…you were my world and I thank you forever and love you forever. please visit me.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Thank you for sharing with us, Susan. Fireball! what a wonderful name for an awesome memory you will always have in your companion of 17 years. We are with you in your grief.

      Reply
    • Mark Morgan

      Susan, I just lost my Koda Bear of 19 years ( He was a Bengal Cat ). I had to make the most difficult decision of helping him move on, so he wasn’t suffering any more. He had diabetes, kidney failure, hardening of his heart muscles, a tumor in his chest, and neuropathy. He was a fighter til the end, and still wanted to be with me. I feel severe guilt, and like you, as if my heart & soul have been ripped from me. I feel totally lost. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone on this path, and we will see them again someday. They are with us, and loving us.

      Reply
      • Brynna Connor MD

        Totally agree, mark- so sorry for your loss of Koda Bear as well. As hard as it is to let them go, I am so very Thankful you could help him be pain-free.

        Reply
  10. Gwen

    I am surprisingly handling the loss of my 14 yr old rescue Border Collie better than I expected (it’s been only a week). I literally thought it would crush me. The problem that I’m having is after getting her ashes back. I am a little weirded out by it. It saddens me to look at the wooden urn and I just don’t know where I should put it. I didn’t know this would be the most difficult part. It’s causing me a lot of distress.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Gwen, that is a difficult day indeed. I hope you will think of her favorite places and pick one– so that you can put her ashes there and think fondly of her every time you visit that “Spot”

      Reply
  11. Barbara

    Lost my 16 year old Gibbs yesterday. We had spent all our time together since I always worked from home. I am so devastated that I feel I have nothing to live for. I can’t stop crying and praying for help to get me beyond this. I have a husband who is also hurting but continues with his routines. I know they say that time is the answer but I’m getting more depressed with each passing moment.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Barbara, it is SO hard- everyone grieves in his/her own way, we know this to be very true- please be patient with yourself.

      Reply
  12. Emma

    Thank you so much for this comforting article. I lost my beloved 10 year old Poppy after she was hit by a car 2 days ago. I can’t eat, sleep as all I see is her lying there. My heart is broken and I keep having major anxiety attacks that are scaring me. Reading this article has made me realise that I am experiencing normal grief and over time the physical pain will hopefully lessen in magnitude. I have also realised that I am not alone.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Oh Emma, I am so sorry- you are SO very not alone in your grief. Our heart goes out to you for your loss.

      Reply
  13. Marissa P

    We just lost our beautiful feisty Cairn terrier, Mia. We were blessed to have her for almost 17 years come Sept 7th. We had to euthanize her on my birthday due to a decline in her health. I sang and talked to her that morning telling her that I loved her and what a good girl she was. I held her near my chest so she could feel my heart beat. It has been extremely difficult for my husband and I. Thanks for this article it validated our grief.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Aww, what a great morning she had- I am so sorry for your loss, Marissa.

      Reply
  14. Julie

    I lost my kitty recently and it hard. But because of this article I fell i can move forward with healing

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Julie, we are so sorry about your kitty.

      Reply
  15. Joel Howard

    Dr. Connor

    3 years ago I took in a little grey and white female kitten as a stray who was just a few months old.
    Since then we have grown to love her and she depended on me for everything, and she followed me everywhere.
    She would never go to the road and when I would pull in the driveway, she would come from the big field behind the house to greet me and wait for me to go in the house.
    One day she saw a rabbit appear from the back of the house across the road and go into a bush. She went in the road in the other lane and wouldn’t move, admins I screamed and screamed at her. But,she didn’t realize the danger. A car came speeding and didn’t even slow down. She finally lunged back toward the house but couldn’t make it and she was killed instantly. And even after 6 weeks I see it over and over and have been a mess ever since. I have been depressed and don’t think I have smiled since. I don’t want to visit relatives and friends, and it has affected my marriage. I loved this little can’t so much. I don’t know if I can ever move on from this. I am thinking about trying counseling.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Joel, the loss is REAL. I absolutely believe in counseling – and it might be a wonderful thing for you – to help in processing this traumatic experience as well as the loss of your sweet cat.

      Reply
  16. Nikki

    Thank you for this article. We said good-bye to our beloved 15 year old dog last Tuesday and I’m experiencing many of the physical symptoms you listed above. We are fortunate that our family and friends have been supportive in our loss, but my heart is just physically hurting and I feel just so exhauseted and drained. Even though I want to cry ( I cried my eyes out since last Tuesday to Sunday), I feel like I physically cannot cry anymore. This is so hard. I miss my best friend terribly.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Nikki, I am so sorry – it is so difficult- I am so sorry for your loss – and 15 – wow! what a life!

      Reply
  17. Cynthia Price

    Thank you for a very helpful article. My beloved dog, Molly, passed away May 29. Some days I still struggle with overwhelming sadness that seems will never go away. Knowing I am “normal” gives me some peace.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Cynthia, you are very normal in your grief- and I hope the memories of your sweet Molly will help you as you always remember her.

      Reply
  18. Sheila

    Though been 3 months I’m struggling without my Cheynia. Heart broke loosing my companion love she gave me 24/7. I’m so empty without her. Without joy,sun pleasure gone.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Sheila, I am so sorry- our companions are so wonderful and it is so hard to say goodbye to them.

      Reply
  19. Angelica Hernandez

    On Tuesday July 13,2021 my dog papi of 13 years was killed by another one of my dogs and I never thought i’d feel the pain of losing a pet let alone him. I haven’t stopped crying and feeling the way i am since tuesday and my family tells me i need to let him go and make peace with the fact that he’s gone and in a better place now.
    He used to suffer from spontaneous seizures and i always knew that one day he’d leave but never did i think he’d leave the way he did, it happened in my room in front me and i tried everything i could to save him but i wasn’t able to and i don’t know if i’ll ever feel ok again because every time i think i’m doing better i start thinking of the incident or him and i start crying. Reading this article really made me realize that it’s ok to grieve the loss of a pet and that i shouldn’t be ashamed of it. I wish it was easy to move on..

    To all of you in these comments who lost a pet, im so sorry for your loss and you’re not alone many of us know exactly how you feel.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      It is so hard, and I am just so sorry.

      Reply
  20. Natoka L Jude

    On June 26,3 weeks from today, I lost my beloved Buchon Frise Bosco. He was 14 years old and in excellent physical health. He was recovering from a cystonomy to remove kidney stones he had done on the 13th of June, and had been dismissed from his restrictions on the 24th of June. He was very energetic and you would never known he had surgery. The next day after his post surgery visit I noticed he was not himself that evening and the next day Saturday evening I asked if he wanted to go to the park which always made him happy and he looked at me with no excitement. I took him to the park anyway to potty around 6 and he seemed his usual self. We stayed about 40 minutes sitting while my daughter jogged. She came and picked him up and we walked to the car and as usual I began to clean his pads with wipes. He made a grunt noise quietly and we just thought oh, he must have had a surgical pain. We got into to the car and he sits in my lap but he is limp with his head on my shoulder as I’m driving and I notice it’s getting worse as I drive. I ended up taking him to the emergency vet and they couldn’t resuscitate him. I am so sick, devastated and heart broken over this. He was healing so well. His vet is so upset and surprised. She was crying and couldn’t believe it. I am physically ill and my stomach feels like I’m on a roller coaster everyday. I’m in shock. He was supposed to be here.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Natoka, I am SO very sorry for the loss of your sweet pup – it is so hard to lose our family members who are our animal companions.

      Reply
  21. Joe G.

    With a shattered heart, I said goodbye to my best friend, Chester, a 19 yr old silver tabby with diabetes and other problems. Almost a year ago he became less active, had difficulty walking, and no bladder control. I knew I had to put him down due to his style of life. Last week, he stopped eating, had no energy. He could barely say, meow. I knew then it was time and I didn’t want him to suffer. After the procedure and the vet said, he was gone, my heart crashed at that instant. I’ve been thru terrible grief in my life but this was nothing like it. He was my side kick for 19 years and now he’s gone. The anxiety, stress, depression, grief, guilt and loneliness was unbearable. I’ll try to get better for my lil boy.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Wow- what a life! You and your Chester were so fortunate to have each other for so long- you must have some incredible memories! I am so sorry for your loss of him ——may those memories live on! and on…and on!

      Reply
  22. Sharyn

    I just put my 17 year old dachshund down due to prostate cancer. This decision was the best due to Milo could no longer pee or poop like normal. He had lost about 5 pounds due to not drinking water. I just feel guilty.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Sharyn, we are fortunate in that we can make the decision to allow our animals to go peacefully—and to not suffer… I am so sorry for your loss of sweet Milo and I hope that you can try to let go of the guilt you feel (as you do not need to feel guilty at all- you gave the kindest act you could have!)—and I hope that you have wonderful memories!

      Reply
  23. Willie

    I just lost my dog Lana recently

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Willie, I am so sorry about Lana – hopefully the awesome memories will help you as you process through the grief.

      Reply
  24. Mark Wilson

    I lost my beloved pet of 3 years due to a traffic accident. although the accident was not mu fault all i can think about is how I could have protected him better. I will never have a pet in a car without proper restraints ever again, in fact I think it should be a law.

    I wrote a letter to my lost pet. He is buried in the backyard and I spend most of my day there mourning him.

    Things have been getting better but your article is correct most people do not understand someone greiving a pet. I tell them it hurt me as much as losing any other family member.
    Thank you for a wonderful article

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      You are right- they ARE family members, and it is so hard to lose them- I hope you have wonderful memories, Mark!

      Reply
  25. Lynda Hamblen

    This post was truly worthwhile to read. I wanted to say thank you for the key points you have pointed out as they are enlightening.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Thanks Lynda- I sure hope the read is worth it for those of us who love our animal companions sooooo much 🙂

      Reply
  26. michelle johnson

    Thank you for this article. My grief and guilt is sometimes unbearable. I lost my Lil German Shepherd, Lola Jean 7-29-21, we just had her first birthday on the 22 of July. She was in her first heat cycle and got the beginning of a uterus infection. The vet recommended surgery and said it was safe. Her heart stopped after they sewed her up. She was in perfect Heath, so I know it was the anesthesia. I just feel like it’s all my fault because I had a premonition something was going to happen and topped it off to my mom anxiety. I wish I could change that day. So much guilt. I lied to her and said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, I love you and you’ll be ok’. My tomorrow will never come.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      Michelle, I am just SO sorry. You could have never known that would happen to Lola Jean – the pain is real and so many others share this with you- as it just hurts so much to lose your family member.

      Reply
  27. Adriane

    I just lost my 18 year old Chihuahua on Sunday. I knew it was coming but I didn’t want to accept it. She was diagnosed with Kidney disease only a few weeks ago. The worst part is she was at my mother in laws while we were on vacation. They called while she was still alive and said that she had not been well the last few days and I said take her to the vet! They called back 5 minutes later and said she had passed. I feel so guilty. She was alone. I should have been holding her. She was my first child, best friend, everything to me. I can’t eat, sleep or stop crying.

    Reply
  28. Valerie

    I’m so glad I came across this article, even more glad to read the comments. We had to have our cat euthanized(unexpectedly) last week and I have been absolutely paralyzed since then. I cry all day on and off and can barely get out of bed. I think I’ve surprised myself(I know my husband is surprised) with the depth of my sadness and feeling of loss. He was only 5….I guess I thought we’d have him around another 10 or so years. To all of you who have experienced this grief, just know you’re not alone and the grief is REAL! I know in time I will get better. We all will.

    Reply
  29. Renee

    Thanks for this article, altho i dont think it will help me get on the other side of my loss. I keep crying and i feel so weak i cant get thru simple tasks. I have 2 other dogs but losing zoey was unexpected. I was doing all i could for her but somehow i failed her. She was diagnosed diabetic 5 months ago. Her blood glucose was over 600. I should have been testing her forn4 months but cpuldnt being myself to make her bleed. Finally, after glucose curves at the vets kept showing high readings (between 300 and 400) and it seemed as if she was insulin resistant, i finally got over that concern and started testing her. Had i been doing this all along, maybe i could have controlled her blood glucose better. But after 5 months she was refusing food. Then we noticed the yellowing of the skin. After bloodwork was done we found super high liver enzymes. In the 1400s! So, the following day i had her euthanized to keep her from suffering thru liver failure. I am just sick. I have thrown up, cant seem to quit crying and my heart aches. I am so weak i cant even stand to do my dishes. I cant eat. Cant cook. And im alone. How can i help myself? She was euthanized on tuesday and this is thursday. Thanks.

    Reply
  30. Rebas zendi

    I just my beloved dog Harrison, he was 11 years old , my daughter adapted him from shelter 9 years ago , and since them he became part of our family. Harrison was very lover , and he loved by any one who new him . Harrison was very healthy and very energetic until couple days before he got sick in stomach, that where we took him to the vet emergency clinic, and put IV on him , but he couldn’t make it , so next day when we went to see him , doctor told us that Harrison couldn’t make it and unfortunately passed away . I am so sad and heartbroken by his death , and his death still make me crying, can’t forget it . Thank for your beautiful advice, it made me much more better.

    Reply
    • Brynna Connor MD

      I am so sorry to read about Harrison, what a wonderful family member!

      Reply
  31. Cindy Namiak

    I lost both of my beloved cats within 2 hours of each other on 8/16/21. Stripes Leilani my 9 yr. old Tabby/Persian was battling autoimmune disease, I was praying her medical treatments would help her, I was to take her that morning @ 9:00 for her appt. At 7:00 I gave her her meds and was feeding my beautiful Black Angora Rain Lily her breakfast. I quickly showered and went into my bedroom and screamed at the top of my lungs …my Rain Lily was dead on the floor. I tried to give her CPR but she was gone. I held her in my arms and wailed….this was a nightmare. My sister came over to comfort me, we still had to take Stripes to the vet. I wrapped Rain in her favorite blanket and put her in a linen covered box. Once at the vet we received the worst possible news, Stripes red blood cell count dropped even further to 10…I had to let her go…my heart was shattered again..
    I cried all the way home….when I returned home I put Stripes in the same box with Rain and wrapped their arms around each other with a rosary and an angel pin. My sister helped me bury them under the honeysuckle bush in my back yard. My vet surmised Rain threw a blood clot, saying that cats are bonded together very much like people and often pass shortly after one dies. Of course none of that comforts me, I am a grown woman and my heart is shredded …I have lost both my fiancee and Mother in the past 4 yrs but they were a constant source of love for the past 9 yrs. This pain is primal and raw….the depression and loss I feel for them and the guilt, the what if, what did I miss…I will carry their love in my heart forever. Our fur babies and the love we share with them is pure. God Bless every who has suffered the loss of their beloved companion.

    Reply
  32. Shai

    We recently just lost our sweet girl. She was a 15 year old chihuahua.

    I got her when I was just 14 years old. 5 years ago I moved to Germany for schooling and she stayed behind with my mom. I would visit every 4 months and I cherished every moment with her. A couple days ago she started coughing really bad and my mom rushed her to the emergency vet.
    She was diagnosed with advanced heart failure and my mom had to put her to sleep all alone. It was a nightmare. I feel so hopeless and torn to pieces that I wasn’t there with her during her last moments. She was my little soulmate and she meant so much to me.
    I feel completely empty and it’s hard to accept that she is actually gone.

    I also don’t feel that people around me take my loss seriously and and act as if I should just move on with life as if her loss wasn’t significant.

    Reply
  33. Sarah

    I lost my cat of 9 years yesterday, due to illness. She was in for an emergency operation but never came home. She helped me through so many things and most of all my abusive relationship for 9 years. I have finally found happiness with my new partner of 18 months and we now have a 6 month old daughter. I just wish she could have had longer to spend in our new happy life as a family. I will miss her dearly, I have never felt pain like this. Everything is a constant reminder.

    Reply

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