Pet bereavement some ways to help cope

The bond between pet and owner is a unique one. Our pets have evolved with us - dogs 'mans best friend' especially. Our pets are there to greet us after a hard day at work, cheer us up when we feel ill or sad. They are part of the family joining us on holidays and family adventures.

Losing a pet can be devastating and can have an impact on the whole family. This may be the first time children experience a bereavement. Parents may be struggling to cope with their children's reaction whilst dealing also with their own grief. 

In some cases a person's pet whether it be a cat, dog, hamster or any other was their only family. The loss of a pet may leave a person feeling lonely and isolated - other people may find it difficult to understand how upsetting this can be. People may often suggest to get another pet. Only you know when the time is right for this. Grief is a natural reaction to loss and everybody grieves differently. 

Having to make a decision to have your pet put to sleep can leave you feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Pet bereavement is something very real and can affect peoples daily lives.

Here are some ways to help cope with the loss of a pet.

  • Prepare a memorial - maybe plant a tree in memory of your pet.
  • Create a memory box of your pet keeping toys, leads and photos in a safe place. This can be useful to look at and remember the good times you shared together.
  • Try to keep to a normal routine especially if you have other pets who will also be grieving. Keep their walking and feeding patterns the same.
  • Read the poem rainbow bridge, the term your pet has gone to rainbow bridge may be used by other pet lovers.
  • Do what you feel is right with their ashes - don't be influenced by other people as you and your pet had the bond and its your choice.


If you are really struggling don't be afraid to seek help. Counselling can help you through this challenging time and is taken seriously by counsellors.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend

Written by Suz West Fdsc , MBACP(Accredited), BA (Hons) Counselling , Clinical supervisor

I am a Person Centred Counsellor in Birmingham. I have a special interest in pet bereavement having worked with rescued animals before becoming a counsellor. Also having experienced pet bereavement myself this is an area I am very passionate about.… Read more

Written by Suz West Fdsc , MBACP(Accredited), BA (Hons) Counselling , Clinical supervisor

Show comments

Find a counsellor or psychotherapist dealing with bereavement

All therapists are verified professionals.

Real Stories

More stories

Related Articles

More articles