Grief and Loss of a Pet

Grieving for your pets

People experience intense emotions after the death of companion animals, but they do not often receive a lot of support in their grieving.

Grief is the normal response to any important loss in life. It occurs regardless of whether death followed a prolonged illness or a sudden accident. Grieving people experience both physical and emotional traumas as they try to adapt to the upheaval in their lives brought about by the loss.

  • The Stages of Grief

In truth, the process of grief is not a cut and dried process that can be subdivided into strict categories. Rather, the grieving process is a continuum with each person experiencing it in a different way.

  1. Shock and Denial: The reality of death has not yet been accepted by the bereaved. He or she feels stunned and bewildered – as if everything is “unreal.”
  2. Anger: The grief stricken person often lashes out at family, friends, themselves, God, the veterinarian or the world in general. Bereaved people will also experience feelings of guilt or fear during this stage.
  3. Bargaining: In this stage, the bereaved asks for a deal or reward from either God, the veterinarian or the clergy. Comments like: “I´ll go to Church every day, if only my pet will come back to me,” are common.
  4. Depression: Depression occurs as a reaction to the changed way of life created by the loss. The bereaved person feels intensely sad, hopeless, drained and helpless. The pet is missed and thought about constantly.
  5. Acceptance: Acceptance comes when the changes brought upon the person by the loss are stabilised into a new lifestyle.
  • Conclusion

Grief is probably the most confusing, frustrating and emotional thing that a person can experience. Society in general does not give bereaved pet owners “permission” to grieve openly. Consequently, pet owners often feel isolated and alone. Luckily, more and more resources are becoming available to help the bereaved pet owner realise that they are not alone and that what they are feeling is entirely normal.

If required we have a register of qualified grief counsellors and we will be happy to assist you if required.


6 / 110 Mays Road,
P O Box 12708
Auckland 1030
Phone: (09) 633 0203
Fax: (09) 6330206

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