How to Prepare for the Loss of a Family Pet

The pain of losing a beloved family pet is very real. Sometimes we feel silly mourning an animal, like we shouldn’t be as upset as we are or that we should be “over it” —but our pets are members of our family, and we can experience the same stages of grief as when a close family member dies. If you have lost a pet, you know how it feels to wander through those first few days in a cloud of sadness. If your dog or cat is beginning to show signs of decline or illness, as painful as it may seem, now is the time to do a bit of research and make preparations, while your head is still clear and free from grief.

Pet Cemeteries

If chances are you’ll be moving at some point in the future, you may not want to bury your pet on your property, since you would have to leave your pet’s remains behind. One alternative is to find a pet cemetery. When the dreaded day comes, the cemetery’s staff will guide you through the next steps. Some cemeteries actually aid in the closure process by allowing family members time to say goodbye in a private viewing room before the coffin is carried to the burial site.


If you think you’ll feel better keeping the ashes at home, most veterinarians can put you in touch with a trusted crematory who will return the remains to you in a tasteful container. Finding a spot of final rest for your pet in the home of which she was such a big part can also afford you comfort and closure. The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories is a good place to start gathering information.

In Memory

When the time comes, consider posting a tribute to your pet on your Facebook page. Not only can you let friends know of your loss, but in the process of composing your words and going through photos and videos to include, you just might find yourself smiling as you recall what a character your buddy was. And in doing so, you are easing into the final phase of grieving: acceptance.

As FTD suggests, donating to charity is an excellent way to memorialize a loved one. Make a donation to a pet-related charity to keep your pet’s memory alive and help animals in need. And perhaps by spreading the word online, friends will be moved to make a donation in her name as well.

Support Groups

Should you find you need the support of like-minded pet lovers going through similar losses, a number of organizations sponsor grief support groups. maintains a list of groups throughout the country.

Look to the Future

Although no pet will ever take your beloved companion’s place, you might want to frequent animal rescue adoption events when the time seems right. One day you’ll feel good about welcoming a new member into the family.


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