Today in the United States, more and more people consider their pets to be an important part of the family. So when a pet dies, it can devastate individual family members or rock an entire family group to its core. It is important to grieve this loss and work through the emotions.
Both children and adults display a variety of reactions to the loss of a pet, going through stages of grief, such as shock, denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, sorrow and acceptance. Children grieve differently depending on their stage of development.
According to Kay Gilchrist, co-chair of the Human-Animal Bond Trust in Denver, Colo., “Realizing that grieving is a part of the healing process and that this process is a highly individualized one is vital.” While the feeling of loss may never completely resolve for some, time can be a great healer and may help lessen the sense of loss. It is important to push through the denial; to leave time for grieving; and to ask for, and accept, support from understanding friends and family. Some local humane organizations and national organizations offer pet loss support groups or hotlines.
American Humane Association knows that the death of your pet can be hard. We’re here to help you through it with these resources: