Some Consoling Words About the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a pet can be overwhelming. It can feel as though the pain will never end. I know. I’ve felt that way with each and every pet I’ve lost. In my book Charlie: A Love Story, about one of my Golden Retrievers, I tell what experiencing the loss of a pet is like. Charlie: A Love Story is about our life together, particularly during the last few years of his life. About some wonderful times we had, even during his declining health, as he fought melanoma. And about his indomitable will, and the long goodbye we were given. Charlie had a long, happy, and beautiful life, and for that I am grateful. But it was still so hard to lose him.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve comforted many people after the loss of a pet. Besides the unbearable sadness, one of the most common feelings I hear is embarrassment: people think they shouldn’t be so upset because, as they hear from those who don’t really understand, “after all, it’s only a dog.” People are surprised about how upset they are after the loss of a pet, that often they are more upset about that loss than when a person close to them dies. So on top of being upset about the loss of a pet, they often feel guilt about being that upset.

Your pet may have been your best friend, perhaps your only friend, or simply the best relationship you’ve ever had. This may evolve slowly and go unnoticed over the years, so when the time comes and you experience the loss of a pet, you may even surprise yourself by the intensity of your feelings. In Charlie: A Love Story I deal with this specifically.

After the loss of a pet, please try to get some support, and know that you’re not alone with your thoughts and feelings. That other people have gone through a similar experience, and that there is nothing wrong with you if you are overwhelmingly sad about losing your beloved pet.