Coping with the loss of a pet never gets easier. I’ve grown up with dogs all of my life, but it wasn’t until college that I started my very own furbaby family. What began as one, turned into two, and later into three. This week I said goodbye to the last of my brood and it’s still breaking my heart.
While I am a totally reasonable person who understands the difference between the loss of a furbaby and the loss of a parent, spouse or child, I still consider it a loss of a family member because in my world that is exactly what they were.
Kayla for example, the first of my brood, had been with me since college. She was there to help and support me as I moved into adulthood.
Then came Kooter, whom I was asked to rescue from my new neighbors kids. Together they comforted and loved me unconditionally, through all my challenges, insecurities and victories.
Last to come into the fold was my gentle giant Hank.
Together these three brought me so much joy and comfort. Through failed relationships, moves, and travel, they were my rocks, never judging, only loving. They were everything.
While today I’m in a much better place than I was earlier this week, thanks to the love and support of understanding friends and family, I know that the grieving process continues. I asked to have his remains cremated so I know I have another wave of grief coming my way when I pick them up, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes. For now, I just wanted to take some time out to provide some words of encouragement for other grieving furbaby parents.
Here are some steps to consider to get you through the grieving process.
Be kind and patient with yourself
Allow yourself time to cry, grieve and accept offerings of condolence from family and friends. Don’t get caught up in the I should be over this mentality. The grieving process is something you get through, not over, and it’ll take as long as it needs to work itself through. So let go of that time frame in your mind and take cues from what your furbaby would have given you if he/she saw you sad – a ton of love, wet kisses and comfort for as long as you needed it.
Don’t get rid of their things all at once
I’m currently struggling with what to do with all the beds. Yes, each one of my furbabies had three beds, each staged in the rooms we hung out in the most. So now I have extra beds, his collar and bowls to deal with. What I’ve decided to do is to just move his bed from my bedroom into another room. That’s the one I’m finding the hardest to look at. I don’t think I’ll get rid of it, but do think moving it will keep it from being a negative reminder to me. I suggest you consider doing the same. And when we’re ready we can consider storing, donating, or discarding their items.
Memorialize your pet
I’m waiting on my baby’s ashes as we speak, but I know when I get them, I need to decide whether I’m going to add them to the little memorial shelf I’ve created for them or if I’m going to add them to the base of a tree, flowering shrub, etc. and create a memorial for them outside somewhere. They loved being outdoors, so that may be a consideration, but I’ll figure that out later. I just know that whatever I choose will serve as a tribute to their place in my life and I love that!
Have you ever had to cope with the loss of a pet? What helped you through?
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I am so sorry for your loss. I know this pain and it is still pretty fresh for me months later. Take your time. When walter passed I had only had him for months. My Chico is 15 and he is feeling it. I wish they could live for ever. But I guess in our hearts they do! Hugs Mama!
Thanks Kim, so sorry for your loss. But you said it right, they do live in our hearts forever. Here’s to continued healing for us both. Hugs
Rocio- I am so sorry for your loss. I happened to read this while at work and am sobbing at my desk. I dread the day I lose my Pee Wee- I’m thinking of you. Hugs, amiga!
Thanks Monica, that was a harder experience than I imagined but when you lose someone who has been there with you through it all, it just is. So sorry I made you cry at work. All I can say is enjoy each and every moment with your little guy, like I know you do. And thanks for the support friend! xoxo
I’m so sorry, Rosie. Kayla sure sounds like she was special. I’ll keep her and you in my prayers.
Thanks Colleen, means the world. Have a great day!
I’m so sorry for your loss, Rosie. Kayla was such a sweet soul. Hugs to you.
Thanks Melanie, she was ☺ xoxo
Oh my heart aches reading this post. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I do love everything you, especially not to get rid of their things. My parents dog Doc passed away in 2011 after being run over. My mom ended up keeping a few of his stuff and made a special memorial on our chimney for him. A couple months later,after the grieving process, they felt ready to get another dog which is now their pride and joy. Losing a fur baby is so hard.
It is Christina and thanks for sharing your parent’s story. It’s definitely a process, but one I’m finding easier to get through thanks to lots of support and words of encouragement. Thanks for stopping in to share 😉
Rocio, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. They truly are members of your family. I went through it a few years ago and still it it’s hard when I think of my Milllie. I like to think she comes to visit me when I remember her. It consoles me. Sending you hugs. I know Kayla is running around with my little hell hound.
That’s Monica, that’s exactly what I like to think – she’s at her prime, running around being her beautiful self. Really appreciate you dropping by, leaving kinds words. Thanks! xoxo
Nothing prepares us for losing our little pups. I lost my pup last year and it left a hole in my heart. He passed so suddenly and wasnt even sick. We had no other dogs or pets so we definitely felt the emptiness. Just go with what u feel at the moment, re: your pups belongings. I kept his bed in our room but couldnt stand to see his dog bowls empty. We have an outdoor plaque and a spot on our bookshelf w/ his ashes, pics and collar. Hope you find comfort in the memories….best wishes…
Thank you so much Stephanie – it is hard, but my heart is full of wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope to be able to do the same for my babies memorial. Have a great week!
Im so sorry to hear about Kayla, Rosie. She was the cutest, sweetest thing. Ive never had a pet but losing something you deeply love, I dont believe there is anything harder. Sending you hugs and kisses.
Thanks Liz, she was the bestest little girl I could ask for and helped me through so much! Thanks for your kind words, means the world. xoxo
Sending lots of prayers your way. You pretty much wrote my story. I lost my Lucy girl after almost 13 years last September. They are indeed a family member and a very special one with unconditional love. I still sleep with Lucy’s blanket. Do what you need to do as you walk this journey.
Thanks Amy and so sorry about your loss. It’s definitely a journey that has reminders every day, but allowing the tears, rather than holding them back, helps the sadness move through easier. Thanks for sharing your story and here’s to continued healing for us both. Hugs
This is just soooo sad. I’m really sorry for your loss. I don’t know what I’m going to do when that happens to my little poodle 🙁 She is more than a dog, but a friend and part of the family. Sending you a big hug
Thanks Elba! It’s been a process, but getting through it. Hugs that you don’t have to deal with this for years to come
Thank you for sharing this, we lost a doggie a few years back and all of this still rings true!
Hugs Kathy, sorry about your loss. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Cheers to continued healing for us both.
Hola Rocio, I am so sorry about your loss. I know how it is to lose a BFF. Sending you a BIG hug!
Gracias Adriana! Every virtual hug helps 😉
My dear friend, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing your fur baby is losing your friend. I know you are taking all the right steps & you have an amazing support system, but I say a prayer for strength and peace for you. Also a special prayer for Kayla.
Thank you Lisa..all the prayers and support are welcome. xoxo
I am very sorry for your loss Rocio. I don’t have any pets, but I can definitely understand your feelings.
Thank you Yaneiza, I appreciate you dropping by and giving your condolences. Have a wonderful weekend!
I’m so very sorry for your loss Rocio!
I never owned a dog but did have two kittens and losing them broke my heart like I never thought it could.
They become part of your daily life and they have a firm grip of your heart 😉
They are exceptional and unique beings that bring joy, laughter and love and that is just priceless.
I cannot even imagine the pain that their absence cause after such a long time.
Just know what wherever they may be they may be smiling down on you and probably are very grateful to have had a wonderful mom like you.
Stay strong and sigue adelante!
Gracias Karla, for your kind words. Every day it gets better. Totally blessed to have had her in my life for so long and to still have her brothers to keep me company. Hope you have a wonderful week!
Hi Rocio, I know exactly how you feel. Here’s a couple of thoughts on memorials.
I scattered the ashes for my first dog in his favorite spot outdoors. which brought me great comfort, until I moved. Now I regret not keeping my dog’s ashes. As much as he loved being outside, he loved being with me more, and I feel like I abandoned him. He’s far away now, so I can’t even visit him. Its been 27 years, and I still miss him. Other dogs followed, but he was my first.
When my last dog died, I was heartbroken. She’d been with me for 15 years, came to work with me every day, went travelling with me, etc. My husband’s dog died just a few years before, and she developed terrible seperation anxiety – we realized that at the age of 12 she had never been alone before in her entire life. Most of her ashes are in a nice cedar box with our other dogs. But at a friend’s suggestion, I put some of her ashes in a small, vacuum-sealed pouch and put it inside a Build-A-Bear, which sits on my bed. Its not her of course, but I can hug it and remember her.
My dad kept his dog’s ashes in the trunk of his car for years. He and his dog loved to go for long drives together. His dog would bark at cows, but not at horses, sheep, or other animals. which we could never figure out until we caught my dad one time whispering “its a cow!! its a cow!!” to the dog. It was their shared joke on the family.
I’ve been thinking of taking some of the ashes of each of my dogs and having them mixed into some blown glass beads, that I could wear or use as sun catchers or something.
I realize this may all sound bizarre to many people, but we each grieve in our own way, and come to peace in our own way too.
Thanks Kate, you don’t know how much I needed this! I love hearing how others remember their babies. I love the Build a Bear idea, and how your Dad still shares the cow joke. As I sit here crying over it all I realize there are so many memories shared that it would be nice to be able to continue to share them. Thanks and none of it sounds weird at all to me, it’s actually giving me great ideas!!! Hugs to you and yours on your losses, but I know they live on in your hearts and memories, as mine do to. xoxo