Coping with the Loss of a Pet

Coping with the Loss of a Pet

Coping with the loss a pet is a very difficult – the grieving process takes time and it is often a very lonely journey. Dr. Susan Wheeler, facilitator for the Pet Loss Group in Las Vegas shared some of the questions that seem to be unanswered for people who lose a pet:  Why did my pet leave?  How can I face the day and move forward?   How can I handle life without my beloved friend?  Where can I find solace and help?

Here are some suggestions from Dr. Wheeler to help you through the grieving process:

Many people have found solace from writing in a daily journal. For example, you can say your good-byes or share whatever else is in your heart.

Only put away your pet’s belongings when you feel it is the right time. It is your choice and you may never want to put the articles away.

Please allow the sad moments and tears to come. Tears are cleansing and will help you heal. The emptiness and hole in your heart will always be there but you will be able to move forward with your other life commitments.

It is important to remember your pet on special days such as your pet’s birthday or adoption, holidays, or other family events. These events are called triggers and are reminders that your pet is no longer there on special events. In spite of the sadness, it is important to find ways to honor your pet on these special occasions.

Make a display of your pet’s photos or other items. Creating a photo album or slide presentation of your pet’s life is helpful. Some people have created shadow boxes or scrapbooks.

Consider walking or caring for a friend’s pet, volunteering at an animal shelter, or becoming a foster pet parent.

Begin to accept invitations from others for coffee or lunch. Remember, however, your friends and relatives mean well but may give unwarranted advice such as: it was only a cat;  you have another pet so you should be all right; I bought you a replacement pet.

As you move through the grieving process please know that you are not alone in your grief and sadness. There is help and support for you.

The Pet Loss Support Group meets every Monday night at 6:30 PM at the Community Lutheran Church located at 3720 East Tropicana Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89121. The meetings are free and everyone is welcome.   The 24 hour phone number is 702-735-5544.  Visit the websites at and

The Las Vegas pet loss support group is for men and women who are dealing with the grief loss process brought about by the loss of a beloved pet. This small and caring weekly support group is provided by Divorced & Widowed Adjustment, Inc., a Las Vegas non-profit organization providing free community service programs for over 35 years. Our purpose is to provide an atmosphere of emotional support and growth for men and women experiencing difficult times in their lives brought about by separation, divorce, or death of a loved one. The Pet Loss Support Group is facilitated by Dr. Sue Wheeler, a lifelong pet lover, educator, and researcher.  Her desire is to help people find the steps to move forward in their lives with continued memory of their loving family member.