I write about grieving and healing; I have a great deal of personal experience in working mindfully with painful emotions, including grief; I have studied the psychology of death and dying from a number of perspectives; however, I am not a professional grief or pet bereavement counselor.
Grief is a highly individual experience, and there’s no one ‘right’ way to grieve the loss of a companion animal. Some people cry for months; others never cry. Feeling sad—devastated, even—is normal when someone we love dies, whether that being is human, feline, canine or another species. This is to be expected; our lives have changed (in a way we didn’t want), and our routines have been disrupted. You are not alone. Most veterinary schools offer a pet loss support hotline, and I’ve linked to a few resources in the US, Canada, and the UK below. Inclusion in this list is not an endorsement.
There are also a number of pet-loss support groups on Facebook. There are far too many to list here (except The Ralph Site, which is among the largest). You can find them by searching for your city/town “pet loss support facebook.”
If you would like more intensive support, or one-on-one support over a longer period of time, check locally for a licensed psychologist (Ph.D or PsyD) or clinical social worker (LCSW) who specializes in working with people who are grieving. Online, please look for Dr. Katie Lawlor, also known as @petlosspsychologist.
Grief-Related Websites & Books (That I Love & Recommend)
Modern Loss – Especially helpful for those grieving age-inappropriate losses (parent, sibling, partner) or multiple deaths. Related Book: Modern Loss (edited by Rebecca Soffer)
Hotlines (Call first, as pandemic protocols vary widely)
- Blue Cross for Pets (UK) Pet Bereavement Support
- Cats Protection Bereavement Support (UK)
- Colorado State University, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Argus Institute Client Support Service
- Companion Animal Related Emotions (CARE) Pet Loss Helpline (Illinois)
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline
- EASE Pet Loss Support Services (UK)
- Michigan State University (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Group
- Ontario Pet Loss Support Groups (across Southern Ontario)
- Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
- University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine Pet Bereavement Support
- University of Pennsylvania, Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital
- University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine Support Group
- Utah State University Pet Loss Support Hotline
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
If any of these links is outdated, or if you’d like to add one, please contact us.