Grieving the loss of your dog

“If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.” ~ Marjorie Garber

Coping with the loss of your dog

Losing your dog can feel like losing your best friend. You may feel heartbroken and full of grief. Yet you grapple with the understanding that your friends and family members may not fully grasp the depth of your feelings for the loss of your dog. Or sometimes well meaning friends may respond in a dismissive manner toward your grief—“its just a dog.” Usually friends who have dogs as companions will be more sensitive and supportive in your grief.

You may not fully realize the comfort that your dog has provided you over the years until your companion is gone. Dogs provide companionship on a daily basis as well as unconditional love.

If your dog has undergone surgery or treatment for a serious illness, then, you are coping with the loss of a having a fully functioning dog. That is a loss, too.

You may remember with sadness the actual day of the week your dog died and feel a little sad on this date every month—this is a typical grief reaction to the anniversary.

If you are a baby boomer coping with the loss of your dog, it is more challenging as you face your own aging body and mortality. Also, if you have lost few friends or family members, then, the loss of your dog can have more impact.

Counseling for Grieving the Loss of Your Dog

Can counseling help me prepare for the loss of my dog?

Knowing, due to the age or illness of our pet, that the loss is imminent, we grieve the loss that has not yet happened. While this is a natural preparation to cope with the loss, when combined with being a caregiver for an ailing pet, it can seem overwhelming.

Counseling can assist you in understanding your feelings so that you remain available to connect with your dog until the end. You can be more present for your dog and enjoy the last few weeks/months together.

The counseling prepares you for the loss and how life will look after your companion is gone.

How does counseling help your grief?

Counseling can help to navigate the loss by providing tools for recognizing and dealing with different stages of grief.

Each person’s loss will be unique to the person and the special relationship with the dog that was created over many years. Grief is a process and speaks the loving attachment you developed with your pet.

Counseling can help you understand your grief and find your best ways to cope based on your personal history. In this transition time— you may miss hearing your dog walk around your home, feeding time, daily walks, and your daily routines with your dog. Counseling can help with your grief process as well as reckoning with the emptiness in everyday life that used to be filled with routines and activities with your dog.