Grieving The Loss Of A Pet.

Animals become like part of our family, so why mourn them any less just because they had four paws and a wagging tail? I’ll never understand those people who tell you that it was ‘just a dog’ because they are never ‘just’ anything to us.

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Have you ever grieved the loss of a pet?

Animals become like part of our family, so why mourn them any less just because they had four paws and a wagging tail? I’ll never understand those people who tell you that it was ‘just a dog’ because they are never ‘just‘ anything to us.

Although I know that the loss of a pet is nowhere near the pain of losing the humans in your life, it still hurts. We still grieve and cry. When we lost our family dog we took his ashes to his favorite spot and scattered them along the ground. Each year we contact each other and recall tales of his life. Ben may not have been human, but he meant a lot to my family. He was also the first real experience that I had with mourning a family member.

Looking back, Ben died to prepare my family for the harder things to come.

On the 18th of July 2016, my family lost our beautiful Highland Terrier to what I now know was a fast-growing tumor in his abdomen. He had been ill since March that year. He was suffering frequent shaking fits and quickly becoming incontinent. This was written in my personal journal after his death, and while I can give you no advice, I felt it was important to share.


Paw prints on my heart.

“On Monday the 18th of July we lost our 13-year-old terrier. Since then life has carried on as normal while my family and I are suffering a heartache greater than I ever thought I could feel. It hurts immensely, and the thought that he won’t be there when I go home is unbearable. I can’t comprehend how the world keeps on turning when we lose loved ones.

I can’t understand how you’re expected to carry on and smile as if nothing has happened when your heart is in pieces.

I’ve had to put animals down twice before, each hurting just a little more than the first, but Ben’s passing was, and is, by far the worst. It’s as if someone has reached inside my body and pulled out my heart. Then there is the feeling of dread and overwhelming sadness which starts in my throat and circulates to my chest, my stomach, and eventually my eyes. When that feeling hits it takes several deep breaths and silence to make it go away. Sometimes it doesn’t and I just have to cry.

It may be difficult for my parents and sister to live in the house where Ben was, but I feel disconnected and lost because I’m so far away. They have each other to grieve alongside, they have each other for comfort, but I feel as if I’m alone in my grief and without any valuable comfort.

I miss Ben more and more with each passing day.

As time moves on I’m able to talk about him without crying, but I’m left with so much guilt. It’s not about putting him down but about not being home enough.

Although it may not have mattered much to him, at least I would have gotten to see him alive. Instead, I’m stuck remembering him sitting under the trailer, as far from us as possible. I’m stuck remembering his slow trek along the fence, digging for cover, as if he didn’t want us to see. I can still hear his final breath. I can still see my father crying as he placed his body gently into the back of the vet’s car. No breathing, no growling, no tail wagging; just still.

How long does it take to get over a constant companion of 13 years?

A dog who helped you and your family through everything? I hope the answer is never, but that the pain of losing him dwindles into happy memories.

Ben, you were truly a spoilt rotten dog. You growled at me every opportunity that you had, and you were a grouch. You helped my family through everything, and so it was only appropriate that we helped you through your final days. I don’t doubt that we did the right thing, and I think you would agree, I think you were telling us that it was time.

Thank you for existing, Ben, and thank you for being the grumpy wee pup that you were. You were there to help my parents through my illness, and you helped us all through my father’s.

Thank you for everything. Love you and will never forget you.”


Have you ever mourned the loss of a pet? What was your experience and what helped you through?

90 comments

  1. I so get how you feel. I had a cat and she was my best friend. We were so close and then she died, which was really sad. I still want to cry when I think about her and I am glad that I do, because it just proves that I won’t ever forget her. So was such a good friend, we totally understood each other.

  2. Pets are a part of our family and as such, they hold an important part in our hearts just like any human family member would. The best advice I have is to simply allow yourself to grieve. Don’t let others make you feel bad for it because it’s ‘just a dog’ or any of that nonsense.

  3. We certainly do. I grieved a long time after my hamsters, yet everyone thought it was something I should shrug off, they don’t understand how pets are family

  4. I’m beginning to learn all grief takes a long time to come to terms with, but that’s okay. We all grieve differently.

  5. I think this was my thinking back when I wrote this. I had a private blog, no one ever read it, but I felt I needed to express how I was feeling in some way. Thank you for stopping by and reading.

  6. Losing a pet is heartbreaking. I was a teenager when my rabbit died rather suddenly and I was in shock for a long time. It’s never easy. I found writing a letter helped a lot, especially when I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about it.

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss, especially as it’s so fresh in your mind. Keep your memories close to your heart, and it doesn’t hurt to have photos. x

  8. Ashes to glass sounds lovely. We just scattered a bit of him in his favourite walking spot, and now he’s kept in an engraved box in the cabinet in their TV room. My father was hit very hard by Ben’s death, but my mother actually got in contact with the cremation place and asked were they looking after him, is he okay etc. She actually became friends with the lady who owns the place by doing that, and although in different towns, they keep in touch via facebook.

  9. It comes at unexpected times and often in groups, or at least that’s what we’ve found. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

  10. Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to stop by this post. I have photos of my dog up in photo frames next to my family and it always reminds me that he was the first pup to spark my love for animals.

  11. You’ll never be able to forget her and you wouldn’t want that. It’s lovely to have memories of her, even if it is painful.

  12. I never considered it that way, about your childhood being over. I suppose I felt a hint of that with Ben, but quite a lot of that when both my grandmother and grandfather died. It’s something I’ve never addressed before, but perhaps should. Thank you for stopping by and reading.

  13. Ben was healthy up until 12 and then he took a sudden turn, but apparently, his breed is prone to cancers of the liver, kidneys, skin and other places. I wish you many more years of happiness with your wee pup. x

  14. All loss is hard and I suppose time heals all wounds. But I find with each loss you go back to remembering everyone you’ve ever loved, animals included.

  15. Such beautiful words. It’s so hard to loss an animal but I always remind myself that he gave us 13 beautiful years, and we gave him one hell of a life.

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss. My dog Ringo died in October. He was my first ever dog, a stray I brought home when I was 14. He lived to be almost 18 and had a truly wonderful life, and made mine so much better than I ever could have imagined. Even if he was a real pain most the time!

    Out of nowhere I burst into tears today thinking about how much I miss him. This pain is horrible but if that’s the price we have to pay for having fur babies then it’s worth it.

  17. So sorry to hear about the loss of Ben. Losing a pet is absolutely no different to me than losing a family member. My pup is currently 12 years old, and while she’s spry and healthy, I know she’s approaching closer to the end of her years and it’s already hard to think about! The bond we have with our dogs is not replaceable.

  18. Losing a pet can be so devastating. Some people only see them as animals, but to me they are family. One of ours was tragically killed and it has had a lasting impact. I’m sorry for your loss.

  19. I am so sorry for the loss. Losing a pet is never easy. This was such a beautiful read. Thank you for sharing.

  20. I had a cat growing up. For 15 years he was everything to me when he suddenly got sick, not surpisingly when you consider his age but still, we had to take him to the vet who put him to sleep. I remember how much I cried, both because of the loss but also because it felt like my childhood was now definitely over. Some people mock the grief you can feel over a pet, but the pain is real.

  21. Wow, this really touched me. Thank you for sharing it. Ben sounds like an amazing friend, and I’m glad you got to spend a lot of time with him.

  22. I can really empathize with you. I was hurt when my dog that I grew up with died. I don’t I’ll ever be able to forget her.

  23. Hi Nyxie! I’m so sorry about Ben. He sounds like he was a wonderful pup and made your life even more colorful and fun. And of course you should mourn him the same way you would a person. He was literally part of your family. Pets deaths can hurt so much. I had to put my cat Harriet down last May and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I had her for 14 years, almost half of my life. I’ll always love her and I have a framed set of her paw prints in my room to remind me of her. Ben was so lucky to have you in his life and of course vice versa <3 Thank you for this moving post.

    Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

  24. I lost my dog when I was in elementary school. It was hard and I really did not a chance to grieve their deaths. Around the same time it happened a lost my childhood best friend and my mom was sick. Death and grief comes at unexpected times.

  25. I have grieved the loss of many pets and I still miss them all. My mother is affected the most by their loss, and it breaks my heart when she gets upset. They are part of the family, you spend years with them, and you love them. My mother has the ashes of our family dog Jack, with his favourite toy and a lovely poem beside him. For her 60th we got her earrings from Ashes to Glass and she wears them every day. Thank you for sharing this post. I am so sorry for your loss but Ben knew you all loved him and he loved you. x

  26. I know exactly how you feel. Pets become part of our family. We lost a family dog years
    ago and whenever I see a similar dog or see his old photos – I get choked up. It’s as if I
    have lost a sibling. We were too upset to get another dog. My son has now convinced
    us to get a cat and I am really happy to have a new member of the family.

  27. Four legs and fur make them no less family than the people in our lives. We lost our dog over a year ago (he was almost 17, and for the most part had a good, happy life). Our family is still adjusting, some days are easier, some harder. On those days, we need to try harder to focus on the happy times, not the sad.

  28. So sorry for your loss, the loss of a pet is truly difficult! They really are family to us. I lost my pug not that long ago either, and while the shock of it might dissipate after time, you’ll forever keep those warm memories of the good times. Sending all the love ????

  29. I just lost 2 cats within 4 minths if each other last year. They had unforgettable personalities and their absence is still felt in my home. I think people who weren’t pet owners should not make comments to people who are. If you don’t have anything comforting to say, say nothing. Great post!

  30. Loosing a pet is such a heart breaking experience. I have lost several pets, and it really never gets easier.

  31. I understand your loss completely. I had the most wonderful pet dog called Jessie that I grew up with – we got her when I was 5 years old and she died when I was 22. She was everything to me and I miss her so much. She was extraordinary. Sending you love.

  32. That’s a lot to deal with in one go. I feel for you, I honestly do. I have lost 2 hamsters and a dog in my life, each hurting a little more than the last. Losing small furries is just as bad as the big ones, especially because they have significantly shorter lives, so it always seems like there is never enough time with them.

    You’re right in what you say. Grieving is meant to be good for the soul because it gives us a chance to process death fully, and completely without distraction. x

  33. It can be so overwhelming, much like losing a person. Even though the wee dog wasn’t yours, it had obviously touched your heart so much that you could feel the pain even oceans away. I’m sending my love to both you and your niece. It does get easier to cope with but it never goes away.

  34. I’ll be the same with Ben’s blanket. Ryan keeps suggesting getting Willow her own, but I’ll never let it happen because it’s sentimental.

  35. Oh that’s adorable and such a nice way to remember him ❤️ I still have a catnip mouse that’s been passed down from Ozzy to Tilly, she never really plays with it but I refuse to get rid of it!

  36. It is a heartbreaking experience, while I was in Cambodia last week my niece had to put her beloved dog of 12 years to sleep in Australia I had the honor of dogsitting her many times I was crying and feeling the loss across oceans. Thank you for writing this. .

  37. Have I ever grieved a pet? Jeepers. As a serial pet lover, In have so many pets and in the last few months I’ve lost 5. 3 Hampsters, A guinea pig and a Flemish giant rabbit. It’s hard hitting and I still think about them everyday and miss them dearly. Grieving is good for the soul I believe x

    Shannon from http://www.atnumber20.co.uk

  38. Thank you for reading. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this before. A common thing or not among people, it’s still hard.

  39. I’m trying to convince my mother and father tho get another animal, but after the death of my granda and then my granny I think they’re just taking their time to be by themselves for once, rather than all this death and illness which they’ve had for years. In time I can see them getting another pup, but it has to be in their own time.

  40. No doubt we will. They are like little people who live with us who can’t speak but we love them and understand them anyway. Thank you for stopping by and reading x

  41. I have lost pets over time. It is always heart breaking. We still miss them.

  42. The loss of a pet is heartbreaking, lost 2 in 4 years . But we decided we could not live without loving another one so no we have Rico our terrier x

  43. I know exactly how you feel. I had to put my dog down a few years back and it still hurts to think about. Our pets are such a huge support system for us it is crushing when they leave us. Hugs to you.

  44. I have a blanket of Ben’s (I’m not sure I mentioned), and it has since been passed on to Willow to use for the remainder of her wee days. It’s like a legacy. From dog uncle to cat niece (?).

  45. It’s so sad to see them getting older. It’s like watching a grandparent. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. x

  46. It truly is hard to lose a dog or any pet. They are family. They are there to greet you when you get home, they are there and know when you are sad. They can sense it. They are your best friend. I think that this was a very beautifully written post and I can certainly appreciate the love that was put into writing this piece for your family pet Ben!

  47. There is nothing to be disturbed about. Sometimes we just aren’t able to feel things like that, and that’s fine. x

  48. I’m so sorry to hear this pet. I still think about Ben all the time and wonder if he got to meet the rest of my loved ones on the other side.

  49. I lost 4 cats in the last 2 years and a snake, and I loved every one of them, like they are my babies, because they were. I have such a bond with my animals.

    Snake was injured bad and nothing they could do. Two cats just disappeared at different times and never came back. We looked and just never know what happened.

    And my two girl sister cats I had since kittens turned 15 and were getting old and frail and we looked after them til they had no quality of life. But it is sad, even when they die of natural causes. If I see pics of them all, I just cry…

  50. I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet can be devasting especially when they’ve been a part of the family for years.

  51. So sorry to hear about your loss. I too lost my dear pet of 14 years last Summer, it’s been a difficult transition. Many hugs to you!

  52. I get this. We lost Keano a few years ago and I still cry sometimes when I think of him. I live away from my family and I wished afterward I had gone home to him more but I know that he knew he was loved and I’m the lucky one because I have his memory. I grieved him as much as I have people, grieving is about loss and an animal companion is a huge loss. I wish more people understood that too. ❤️

  53. Sorry to hear about your loss.

    I wish I could grieve the loss of the pets and people I’ve lost over the decades. For some reason I’ve just never been able to, which, at times, has made me feel a little disturbed with myself

  54. yes yes yes! We lost our dog last week and this just sums up exactly how I feel! I needed this post x

  55. I cry every time I hear people’s accounts of their lost pets. It is heartbreaking to say the least. I lost gold fishes when I was studying in med school. I cried for days and till date I can’t bear the thought of having a pet just because I fear I might not be able to care for it annnnd it would not survive! They are unconditionally loving and rely on you for everything and all they want us love and basic care.. heaven is surely full of all our pets..❤

  56. This is something touches a lot of people on a personal level. I lost my three childhood pets in succession to old age and illness. My cat was the hardest because she was really mine, but what really broke me was the fact that I wasn’t with her when she died. I still hold the door open for her when I go into my room, then I remember she won’t be coming. She died three years ago and I’m still doing it.

  57. Such a powerful post! The day we lost my cat, Harmony, was incredibly heartbreaking. I think about it all the time and get nightmares. Most people don’t think that pets can be family, but they really are and it hurts a lot, if not more, than a human loss.

  58. Oh Nyxie, it’s so sad losing pets. Our last dog was such an amazing boy, a fox red labrador. He was our boy. We lost him two and a half years ago when he suddenly became ill. Such a huge loss, but we have 11 years worth of very special memories.

  59. I haven’t experienced this though my dog is getting up in age he is 15 and I’m always on edge when I wake up because idk I can’t imagine him not being here ugh I don’t even want to think about it dogs I’ve never had a cat literally become family and it’s just heartbreaking

  60. I have lost two Golden Retievers over the last 18 years. Both were the loves of my life. mountain, my first Golden, was with me during a cross country move to Chicago. He as at my side always for the 4 years we had him. He saved my life is so many ways. It took me years to recover when he passed. And though I have a new Golden, it miss Mountain every day.

  61. When I was 9 or 10 we borrowed an incubator from my siblings school and hatched some of our own duck eggs. The first batch, 2 eggs hatched and one of the ducklings died overnight while the other one I named Cheapy (I was 10 alright! I didn’t quite have the hang of the whole pet naming thing) and he had imprinted on me when he hatched!
    I think it was a year? Maybe two years later that we had to put cheapy down. It was a horrible experience because I found him in the garden in obvious pain (there was a problem with his penis – it wasn’t retracting properly) and we took him to the vet and the vet offered a fix of some stitches to give us a couple more weeks or to put him down then and there.
    Mum made me choose! I was still in primary school and I had to make the choice of what to do with this beautiful drake that followed me everywhere I went around the garden.
    I chose to have him put down then and there and he wouldn’t go. After the third injection the vet sent me out of the room because I was so distraught and Cheapy was struggling. Mom stayed in the room.
    I remember sitting in the waiting room and wanting a hot chocolate from the machine but being worried that it would cost Mom money and she would be even more angry.
    I took Cheapy’s body home and buried it in my spot in the garden.

    It was a horrid experience for me, especially to have to be in charge of the decision at such a young age. I couldn’t bear the thought of making him live on in pain just for my sake though.

  62. We had 3 dogs and 1 cat, but we had to put one dog down because he had cancer and was in so much pain. It has been about 5 years and we still talk about him. Now my other 2 dogs are up in age and are struggling with arthritis. It hurts my heart so we are trying to help them live comfortably. Our pets are an extended part of our family. No questions asked!

  63. I’ve loved all our pets so much. I hate losing them. It’s so tough. I can still get sad when I think about it but I also remember how awesome it was to have them.
    Great post!!

  64. Wow this is so powerful and it made me cry! I had to put down an amazing dog from stomach cancer and it was horrible. So well written!

  65. Genuinely have a bit of a lump in my throat after reading this, but what a lovely tribute to a gorgeous pooch. It’s always frustrated me that the loss of a pet isn’t always taken seriously. They’re a member of the family and its utterly heartbreaking when they pass away, even after the years pass. As a child I remember losing pets and getting upset but as an adult it seems to hurt even more. Saying goodbye to two special cats over the last few years was awful and I hated that when I cried at work over one of them I was told “it’s was only a cat.” Pictures definitely help, I have so many to look back on and even though it’s a little upsetting when you come across one, I always feel thankful for them. Thank you for sharing ❤️

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