Making Your Way Through Pet Loss Grief

For many people, pet loss grief can be unbearable. You’ve lost your best friend, your confidante, your buddy, your sidekick. You’ve lost the most joyous, loyal being you’ve ever known. You didn’t think pet loss grief would hit you this hard. But it did, and it does. And it has for me, every time I’ve lost one of my cherished pets. In my book Charlie: A Love Story, about Charlie, one of my Golden Retrievers, pet loss grief is one of the main topics. Yes, I eventually lost Charlie. When that happened, even though I was thankful for the fourteen glorious years we had together, his loss was devastating for me. He was my best buddy.

As a psychotherapist, I frequently help clients deal not only with pet loss grief but also with grief we all experience throughout life. What I’ve seen is that there is essentially no difference between the grief caused by human loss and pet loss grief. When you lose a being that means so much to you and that you love so deeply, the loss can be overwhelmingly painful, regardless of whom you’ve lost, and the grieving process can take some time. How long a time that is depends on individual circumstances.

In my book Charlie: A Love Story, I show what my own pet loss grief was like and what I did to try to ease the pain. For me, the first month or so was nearly impossible. But it turns out that there are things I did that helped. For one, writing about Charlie helped a lot. And keeping busy was also beneficial.

And time really has been a good healer. When the pain of pet loss grief is excruciating, it’s not easy thinking that in time you won’t feel so distraught, but the pain does subside. Generally, if you allow yourself to feel the pain and the heartache, you may get through your grief sooner.

Just know that pet loss grief will not last forever. There will be a day when you’re not overwhelmingly sad, a day when you think about your pet and you actually smile thinking about the wonderful life that you and your best buddy had together.