The process of grieving is different for each person and in each situation, but make no mistake, losing a beloved animal companion is a real loss.  Our pets give us so much: companionship, joy, purpose in life, and most of all, unconditional love.

     If you are reading this, chances are that you have a pet approaching the end of his or her life, or know someone who does.  There will be hard choices about that pet’s care and when to say goodbye to that very special friend.

     Guilt can be a major factor.  Is the cost of medical care more than you can afford?  Does your pet need more time and care than you can provide?  Your pet loves you and trusts you to make the best decisions for all of you.  Do your best, and make your pet’s last days the best that they can be.

     There is no timetable for grieving; give yourself all of the time that you need.  Many people do not understand the strength of the bond between a person and a beloved animal companion.  They never experienced that joy or the pain of that loss.  Try to surround yourself with people who do understand, and who will support you.

     Many people find comfort in physical reminders of their pet.  It could be a beautiful urn containing the pet’s ashes, a marker stone in the garden, photographs, or a memory book.  Some find comfort in helping others, whether by donating to charities, volunteering, fostering, or opening their hearts to another animal in need of a warm, safe, loving home.

     There are numerous books on grieving available, many of them mentioned on the websites listed below.  Professional counseling is also a valuable resource that can help people deal with their pain.

     I am listing several websites below with information on coping with pet loss:

     veterinarywisdomforpetparents.com is a site set up by the people who make the Clay Paws that I use to make mementos after performing a euthanasia.  It has thoughtful and useful articles, as well as a list of resources, from printed material to counselors.

     hometoheaven.net is the excellent website of a home hospice and euthanasia service in Colorado.  They also have a very informative site, including a section on grief with a page of quotations that will touch your heart.

     www.pet-loss.net/emotions.shtml is a link to an article about the emotions of pet loss.  The main web site at www.pet-loss.net also offers other useful articles as well as books and memorial items.