How Utilizing Support Groups for Pet Loss Can Make All the Difference

As an in-home euthanasia veterinarian and owner of an after care facility for pets, I am all too familiar with the emotional rollercoaster owners feel when a pet dies. I firmly believe in the power of group support when grieving a pet and I fully endorse the following recommendations. 

We live in a society that does not necessarily prioritize the effects that pet loss can have on mental health. As a result in can be difficult to find the right emotional support that one needs when grieving the loss of a beloved pet. 

Loneliness and isolation are also common feelings after the death of a beloved pet, and the support of family and friends can be invaluable. However, it isn't always possible to grieve freely and openly among our inner circle; after all, not everyone in our society prioritizes pet loss grief. Some families and cultures may not value the role a pet has in your life. They may insist that, “it was just a cat/dog” or “you can get another one”. These words are hurtful and isolating. 

Pet loss support groups are great for people who feel like they are facing grief alone. The group settings will help validate their feelings and provide a safe, non-judgmental space to fully express emotions. 

The Pet Loss Support Group at Rancho Costal Humane Society offers an environment where your thoughts and feelings can be shared in a safe and supportive setting. Not only will you be surrounded by people experiencing similar emotions, you will be supported by licensed social work professionals who can guide you through the waves of grief. 

A grief counselor once explained to me that the grieving process is important to experience and ultimately it helps forge a new relationship with your lost loved one. With the help of group support you can replete yourself healthy and happy memories of your lost pet.

Helpful tips and resources - 

Please look for a local pet loss support group if you are…

  • Planning for a euthanasia or anticipating the loss of a pet 
  • Feeling lost without your pet
  • Not feeling supported by family and friends
  • Have a family member who is having difficulty grieving a lost pet
  • Wondering if it is too soon to get another pet

Websites

Association of Pet Loss Barevement https://www.aplb.org

Grief support Center at Rainbow Bridge https://www.rainbowsbridge.com

Books (for adults)

Saying Good-bye to the Pet You Love, Lorri Greene, PhD and Jacquelyn Landis, New Harbinger Publications, 2002.

Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, Jon Katz, Villard, 2011.

Best,

Dr. Rose