When a Pet Dies

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Most of us associate grief, funerals and memorials with human loss but when a pet dies it is also a terrible loss. For many people, their pet isn't just a cat or a dog - it's a member of the family.

Rest assured it's only natural to feel intense grief and sadness when a pet dies. Pet grief is as unique as the relationship - for some, pets can be like the children they never had and for others, the pet relationship is simple and uncomplicated. It's important to acknowledge grief associated with pet loss just as any other grief needs to be acknowledged.

If you are planning a pet memorial or pet funeral, some decisions will need to be made before you start. This section is designed to help you think about them. Before making any decisions, try to categorize your plans into five separate areas for consideration:

  • Pet Euthanasia
  • Pet Cremation or Pet Burial
  • Pet Memorial/Pet Funeral
  • Pet Grief
  • State laws

Here are a few suggestions when a pet dies:

Breathe. Take time to think about how you want to honor the life of your pet. What can you afford and how will it help you and other family members with their grief?

Stick to your budget. Be realistic about your finances - decide what your budget is and stick to it. How much you spend doesn't indicate the level of love you feel for your pet. These decisions are personal and should be based on your own realistic needs.

Keep moving forward. It's easy to keep delaying plans and rethinking your choices, but make each decision as best as you can and try not to look back and second-guess them.

Recruit the help of the people who offer. You may feel like you are burdening friends and family when they ask to help, but accepting their help makes them feel useful at a time when they may feel helpless.

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Pet Parents: A Journey Through Unconditional Love And Grief
By Coleen Ellis
Coleen Ellis