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Understanding pet loss and grief

Our capacity as human beings to love correlates to our capacity to grieve. Because of how we come to love our pets, we experience profound loss when one of them becomes ill or dies. Everyone mourns in their own way, and there is no timeline or formula for processing loss. However, there are some tools we can use to help ourselves, and those we care for, during the grieving process:

  • Time: No one grieves on a prescribed timeline. Everyone is different and some losses take longer than others to move through. Be gentle with yourself and honor the time it takes to heal.
  • Story: Share the story of your loss with those you care about and who care about you, but also share your joyful memories.
  • Connect: Find and make use of your support system. Understand that not everyone knows how to support someone in grief.
  • Retreat: While connections are helpful, also recognize there will be times you need to retreat and recharge. Grieving drains your energy and you may need more quiet time to recharge than you normally take.
  • Listen: Pay attention to your self-talk. If your emotions are spiraling out of control, you may need additional support.
  • Support: If you know someone who is grieving the loss of a pet, the best thing you can do is be a good companion. You can’t fix it for them, but you can help them heal by being there for them. Let them know you are thinking about them.
  • Memorials: Memorials are a beautiful way to honor the memory of a beloved pet. At Morris Animal Foundation, our memorial card program provides an easy and thoughtful way to memorialize a beloved pet while supporting science that advances animal health. It’s another way to create a living legacy in your pet’s name. A memorial card also is a heartfelt way to reach out to a friend or family member who has lost a pet.

In recognition of the pets we have lost, Sunday, Sept. 13, is National Pet Memorial Day, a day to remember and celebrate the lives of our pets. You can honor your pet, or the companion animal of a family or friend, through the Morris Animal Foundation memorial card program. You also can call us directly at 800.243.2345 for assistance in sending yourmemorial card.


Categories: Animal health
August 25, 2015