CALL (732) 741-1333 | Barbara Fane, LCSW, BCD, Monmouth County Therapy & Counseling - 23 White Street, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702

Pet Grief

Have you had to put an ailing pet to sleep? Has your beloved companion animal died in an accident? Feeling like you’ve lost your best friend or a family member?

The Bond Between Animals and Humans is Intense.

They can fill such a huge space in our hearts. When they are sick, you worry about them like you do a child. As they age, you begin to dread their passing with as much worry and anticipated sorrow as you might have for an elderly relative.

And yet, maybe you feel a little uncomfortable talking about grieving for a pet. Maybe you’re getting strange looks or ridicule from people who don’t understand. Maybe you wonder if there is something wrong with being so heartbroken over this loss.

I’d like to help you through this time. Many clients come to me with just such sadness and concerns.

Your companion animals have filled a significant role in your life. They have been there for you in the long lonely nights providing an unconditional, steady, non judgmental presence. They have given you a focus for all the extra love you’ve had to offer. You developed rituals to care for them that guided your daily life. They’ve been there for you through so many life passages.

Yet there are few acceptable outlets to process and share grief from losing a beloved pet. It is taken for granted that you would miss a person who has been by your side, welcomed you home, listened to your self-talk, provided years of laughter. And it is no different for some pet owners.

Animals can and do occupy a unique place in the human heart.

Having to Decide to End a Pet’s Life is Devastating.

If your older animal becomes terminally ill, you may have been advised by your veterinarian that you should consider euthanasia to end their suffering.

But it is no easier to make this decision for a pet than it is to end life support for a person. And the process of coming to a decision is similarly fraught with agonizing anxieties, bargaining, and hoping for a miracle.

In bereavement counseling, I can help you process your feelings and options.

pet loss counseling

Finding Peace After an Accidental Death.

Maybe in your case your family pet met an untimely end. Or maybe you found your companion animal seriously injured, and there was no way to save them.

You might be overcome with shock and traumatic memories if you witnessed the accident. Or you might be taking some blame, and feeling just awful.

With counseling, I can help you come to terms with this loss.


Forgiving Yourself

Grief is a natural emotional reaction. Grieving happens to you because you have loved and lost something or someone you held as important to your own well-being.

Grief may bring up other feelings as well, such as:

  • anger
  • depression
  • guilt
  • regret
  • disorientation
  • confusion

Some of these feelings may gradually fade away as you move through the grieving process. But the pain of pet loss can feel so isolating when others don’t grasp that you lost an irreplaceable friend and family member.

This is where counseling can be really helpful.

I have many years of experience in helping grieving people get to the other side of the grief process, with all it entails. If you are feeling like you are drowning in sadness, and unable to get through the day, or night, without feeling overwhelmed and unable to forgive yourself, I’m here to help you find a healing perspective.


Dealing with Others Who Don’t Understand

Not everyone has the deep connection to the animal world or companion pets that you have. Some won’t understand that this is a loss felt as deeply as any sorrow for a relative or friend.

You might be asked why you are taking it so hard. And some people can be rather ridiculing about implying that it’s no big deal and you should just get over it.

Few would dare say that if you’d lost a parent, sibling, or child. But that unthinking lack of empathy can be terribly hurtful. It might even alter your relationship with someone who can’t show you some compassion at this devastating time – and then there’s a secondary loss.

No one should have their grief trampled on.

Whether furry or feathered, I’ll help you honor the bond you’ve shared with your beloved companion.

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