Joy Sackett Wood

Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Grief Transformation Coach & Author

How to Cope with The Death of a Pet

When someone you love passes away, it is very natural to feel sad, show grief and expect friends and family to give you the understanding and comfort that you need.

However, when it comes to the death of a pet, we don’t always get that understanding. Some people will simply not be able to comprehend how central a pet can be to someone’s life and may not understand why you are upset over “just a pet.”

Part of the family

What some people have a hard time grasping is that a pet can mean just as much to you and sometimes more than other people. We love our pets and consider them members of the family and often celebrate their birthdays or involve them in other family times like Christmas. So when a beloved pet passes away, it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed by a sense of loss.

The first step to coping with the loss of a pet is accepting the fact that they can mean the world to you; they provide companionship, emotional support and unconditional love. By acknowledging and accepting the bond between you, you’ve already taken the first step towards coping.

By finding a way to cope with the grief you are feeling you can turn the tears from memories into smiles of remembrance.


There is no one way to grieve, it is a very individual process. For some it will last days and for others it will be years. Generally, there is a process which tends to start with denial as this offers a sort of protection from the realisation of the loss.

Some people will feel anger, towards everyone and everything and others perhaps will feel guilt that they couldn’t save their pet. Others may completely shut down, as they feel it is inappropriate to have the feelings they do because it is, after all, “just a pet.”

Once these feelings pass, then an owner will probably experience the true sadness of grief. Some often become withdrawn and even depressed. Unfortunately, until acceptance of the loss is reached, the sadness will continue.

How to cope

As we have said, grief is a personal experience, but you need not deal with it alone. There are many forms of support available including counselling services, hotlines or local groups, books, magazine articles and many more.

Some ways to cope might be;

  • You must acknowledge your grief and allow yourself the opportunity to express it.
  • Don’t feel ashamed to reach out to others so you can share your grief. Look around online and you will find people going through the same thing that you can talk to.
  • Try writing down your feelings in either a journal or short story or whatever works for you.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet and a place you can go to remember them.

The most important thing of course is to be kind to yourself and accept that it is okay to feel loss, pain and hurt and that at some point in the future, the sadness will turn to fondness for the memories that you had.

If you need to talk, I am here and ready to listen.