Pet Loss and Grief

It is completely normal to grieve the loss of your pet as you would any family member. It may be all‐encompassing or the emotions may come over you in waves. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Typically, there are certain stages of grief. They are shock/denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may arrive at each stage in any order and possibly even more than once. There is not a specific timeline for dealing with the loss and you may face a lack of understanding from well meaning friends who have never had a deep relationship with an animal and just do not understand the depth of feeling you are experiencing over the loss. If you feel a lack of compassion or the grief is simply too great, you should seek compassionate support. There are many sources available. Look into the following for further direction:

  • Humane Societies may have a support group
  • Professional counseling
  • Family/Friends
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Hotlines:
    • UC Davis 916.752.4200 (weekdays 6:30 pm‐9:30 pm)
    • Cornell University 607.253.3932 (Tues, Weds, Thurs 6:00 pm‐9:00 pm)
    • University of Florida/Gainesville 904.392.4700 (weekdays 7:00 pm‐9:00pm)
    • The Ohio State Listening Line 614.292.1823 (weekdays 6:30 pm‐9:30 pm, Sat, Sun 10:00 am‐4:00 pm)
    • Chicago Veterinary Medical Association 708.603.3994 (Leave Message)
    • Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (
    • Pet Loss Support (

Books for Adults

Anderson, M., Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, 2nd ed. Peregrine Press, 1996.
Harris, E., Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide. Llewellyn Pub, 1997.
Kowalski, G., Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet. Stillpoint Pub. 1997.
Steinbach, D., Loving, Caring, Letting Go without Guilt: A Compassionate but Straightforward Look at Pet Euthanasia. Willow Bend Pub. 1997.

Books for Children

Morehead, D., A special Place for Charlie: A Child’s Companion Through Pet Loss. Partners in Publishing, LLC 1996.
Rylant, C., Dog Heaven. Blue Sky Press. 1995.
Rylant, C., Cat Heaven. Blue Sky Press. 1997.
Viorst, J., The tenth good Thing About Barney. Antheneum, 1971.
Another good source of general information is

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