Five Ways To Help You Mourn: How To Prepare And Handle The Passing Of A Beloved Pet

Your pet is like a family member. So when a pet dies, it is normal to mourn his death and find ways to remember him. There are many ways to cope with the death of a pet. Animal Fair interviewed Coleen Ellis, founder of the Pet Angel Memorial Center, the first stand – alone funeral home for pets. Ellis provides support services for grieving pet owners and gave us tips on how to cope.

Ask questions

When you bring your dog to the vet upon or before your pet’s death, good things to ask are how long and where your pet is going to be held. Find out the clinic’s entire procedure – like a relative, you should know what’s going to happen to your pet.

 Give it a proper burial/memorial service

Ellis promotes the idea of seeing animals as little people.  They deserve a proper burial. has a listing of pet cemeteries across the United States.  You can also pay tribute to your pet through a memorial service or a place in your house with pictures of your pet and its favorite toys.

Let yourself follow the steps

After a family member dies, one experiences the natural steps of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These steps are the same for a pet. Accompanying these steps is the underlying emotion of guilt. If the death is accidental, guilt and anger are strong, whereas if it is expected like with a health issue, grief begins with bargaining and trying to find ways to prevent the death.

Assure your kids it’s okay to be upset

Every child has a relationship with the family pet, whether as a cuddle buddy or confidant. Talk to them using the right words. Don’t use words like “sleep” or “new home.”  Rather, say that he is in heaven with other dogs and cats.  Encourage your children to draw pictures or write stories in your pet’s memory.

Remember that a new pet is not a replacement

When your pet dies, allow yourself and your family to go through the grieving process before finding a new pet. If you rush into things, you will not be able to appreciate the new while still mourning the old. Also be sure to remember that your next pet is not to replace your previous one but rather to pay tribute to him and honor his life.

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