How Do You Heal from Losing a Dog?
The answer to this question is complicated. Everyone mourns and processes differently and on their own time. And that’s fine! Just remember, what works for someone else might not work for you.
Although we want the pain from losing a dog to go away ASAP, it doesn’t happen instantly. There’s no magic solution to make the pain go away. But we have some helpful tips on ways you can deal with this mourning process, honor the life of your sweet pup, and remember the good times you had together.
Why Does Losing a Dog Hurt So Much?
It’s hard to lose a dear friend and loved one. Our dogs have become a part of our family. They listen without arguing or interrupting. They love unconditionally.
And anytime you put in the effort and energy to care for another being, you form an attachment to them. You fed them, trained them, kept them healthy, and played with them. You bonded with them and gave them a big piece of your heart. That’s why it hurts so much.
Because of this pain, some people decide it’s too difficult to go through again with another dog. But for others, they can’t imagine a home without a dog in it. And whether or not you choose to get another dog in the future is up to you. There’s no correct answer.
Just remember that every dog is a unique individual. And the next one won’t replace the one you’ve lost. They will simply be another great friend you get to love.
Do Dogs Mourn?
If you have more than one dog—or cat—the surviving pet may struggle with losing their furry sibling. This pet might act depressed or anxious. Or they may even just seem confused because their routine is off.
Animals don’t always show grief or mourning like we do. But they are relational creatures. And they are impacted by losing a loved one just as much as we are.
How Do You Move On from Losing a Pet?
Moving on from losing a pet is difficult and will probably take more time than expected. And no matter how much time has passed, you’ll always miss your sweet pup. But little by little, the pain will fade away. As the saying goes, “time heals all wounds.”
As you grieve, you must take time to mourn. Yes, crying is a good thing. Take time to process. Take time for self-care. And talk with friends, family, a counselor, or a support group. Below are seven things you can do to help yourself heal.
Seven Ways to Cope with Losing a Dog
Some of these may work for you and some may not—depending on your personality and situation. The most crucial part is to do what is needed to process and move forward healthily.
- Join a support group
There are grief support groups that specialize in pet loss. You can search for one near you or check out the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement website or the Pet Loss Help website. Even though your friends and family love you and want to support you, if they haven’t gone through this specific type of loss, they may not fully understand.
- See a counselor
You can make an appointment with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist to talk through your grief and emotions. They can help you walk through this process step by step.
- Share pictures and memories on social media
Many people will share their mourning with friends and family on Facebook and Instagram by posting pictures of their pup and even sharing a bit about their dog’s personality and life.
- Have a memorial service for your pet
Please don’t feel silly about having a memorial service for your dog. Your pup was a dear loved one and a special part of your family. And sometimes having a memorial service and talking about the life of the one you lost can help you start the healing process—even when it comes to your dog.
- Talk with family and friends
Your family and friends love you and care for you. They know that you are grieving and that your dog meant so much to you. They can be a great shoulder to cry on. Don’t try to grieve alone.
- Donate to an animal shelter in your dog’s honor
Even if you’re not ready to add a new pup into your home again, you can donate in your dog’s honor to the American Humane Society or to one of the many shelters, rescues, or humane societies local to you. This way, you are still impacting the lives of other dogs for the better.
- Memorialize your dog with a sentimental keepsake
There are numerous ways you can memorialize your dog with a physical object. Here are some ideas.
- Pet Portrait
There are companies like West & Willow that create beautiful, framed pet portraits.
- Paw Print Keepsake or Tattoo
If you like tattoos, you could get a tattoo of your dog’s paw print—or even their picture. If you’re planning ahead before your pet passes, you can make a DIY personalized dog paw print ornament, or you could make a clay paw print impression with this kit from Chewy. But if you just have their ink paw print, you can frame it with their picture in this kit from Amazon.
- Pet Fur Memorial Necklace and Keepsake Locket
On Etsy, you can find numerous options for a keepsake fur locket. There are many beautiful variations. You just put a lock of your dog’s fur inside this see-through locket. That way, you can always have a part of them with you.
- Custom-Painted Urn
If you are having your pup cremated, you can find custom-painted dog urns on Etsy. Many of them will have a custom painting of your dog on the urn. This can be a special memorial feature in your home.
- Custom stuffed animal or pillow with your dog’s face
You can get a regular square or rectangular-shaped pillow with your pet’s face on it or even a dog-shaped pillow with your pet’s picture on it at ThePetPillow.com. Or you can purchase a custom plush stuffed animal on Etsy that is made to look like your pet. That way, you’ll still have something to snuggle with at night that reminds you of your pup.
- Pet Portrait
Take Time to Mourn
Most importantly, take time togrieve‚—and for some self-care. The more you avoid the pain, the more it will build up. Just remember, you will be able to move forward. It will just take time.