Grieving

Stages Of Pet Loss Grief
We extend our deepest sympathy on the loss of your pet. It’s very hard to lose a dog, a cat, or any other furry friend.

Often, pet owners feel a lot of guilt and “what ifs” tend to run through their minds. It’s a normal stage of grieving. You have no fault other than knowing that animals have shorter lives, and sometimes there are unfortunate situations that you could have never predicted. Your pet was loved deeply. May all the good memories prevail in this difficult time.

We wish there was a way to lessen the grief, but it seems to come in stages, and we must navigate the waves of sorrow. We believe, out of all the lessons of unconditional love, that the joy of living in the moment is one of the best. Unfortunately, we must learn to live our lives without our companions and be strong, focusing on considering ourselves honored to have met them.

We send you a virtual hug and hope that some of the words that we have added below will help.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here,
that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills
for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine and our friends are
warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health
and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and
strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and
times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one
small thing: they each miss someone very special to them, who had
to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly
stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his
eager body quivers. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group, flying
over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally
meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the
beloved head, and you look once more into those trusting eyes of your
pet, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

- Author Unknown

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile cycle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."

- Irving Townsend

"The Once Again Prince"

We may not be together in the way we used to be,
We are still connected by a cord no eye can see.
So whenever you need to find me, we’re never far apart.
If you look beyond the Rainbow and listen to your heart.

- Author Unknown

Our Pets are the light of our lives, when that light dims, we often struggle. However, their spirit shines on brightly, and will guide us as we continue on our journey, a journey full of memories and love.

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there,
I do not sleep.
​I am the sunlight on the ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in the circled flight.
I am the stars that shine night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die......

- Anonymous

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Accepting Your Pet Loss

Easing the Pain of Losing a Pet

The loss of any close friend can be devastating, and pets can be among our closest companions, providing unconditional love, emotional security, and loyalty. Routine lifestyle activities with an animal companion often provide structure, fun, relaxation, and social contact. Lack of understanding and support from people around us can make this period even more difficult.
Easing Pain Of Pet Loss

Be Prepared

It is best to be prepared for this difficult transition beforehand. Sometimes the death of an elderly or ill pet can be anticipated. Other pet owners may face a sudden loss as the result of an accident or short-term illness. The pet’s quality of life, your emotional reaction, and the financial cost, should all be considered as the time approaches.

Preparing For Pet Loss

Accept Your Feelings

The most important part of healing from the loss of a pet is to acknowledge what you are feeling and find a way to release it. Grief is a personal experience and there are no right or wrong ways to feel it. Writing your thoughts in a journal, a good long cry, and reaching out to your friends or a counselor are all ideas that work.


Many people find comfort in rituals, like paying their final respects with a brief service or setting up a small memorial with photos and ordinary objects that had significance in the pet’s life. It’s important to think about the good times and remember to pay extra attention to surviving pets who also know that something difficult has occurred.

Special Friendships, Special Concerns

The death of a long-time companion can be particularly painful for those who shared a unique relationship with their pet. This includes anyone whose pet was the sole or primary companion, or who was either physically or emotionally dependent upon their pet. Children, the elderly, and handicapped pet owners often have unique bonds with companion animals and may need special attention and support when a pet dies.

There are no pre-set stages of grieving, milestones, or time periods to meet, rather the process is individual to each person. There is no set pattern or time period for recovery, but there are some general patterns.

Understanding Grief:

Denial.

Most people will experience a period of denial, refusing to believe the pet is dying or has died. Denial is usually strongest when there is little time for acceptance, such as when there is an accident or short-term illness.

Bargaining.

For pets facing imminent death, many people will try to make a deal with God, themselves, or even the pet, in a desperate attempt to deter fate.

Anger.

In frustration, anger may be directed at anyone involved with the pets, including the pet owner, friends, family, or veterinarians.
Understanding pet Loss Grieving

Guilt.

Guilt is probably the most common emotion resulting from the death of a companion animal. As the pet’s primary caretaker, all decisions regarding care are the owner’s responsibility. When a pet dies, the owner often feels guilty about actions taken or not taken, even about things that happened before the pet became ill feeling that he or she should have somehow done more. But we all do our best with the information, knowledge, and resources available to us. It is important to not second-guess your decisions, and to remember that you tried to act in your pet’s best interest.

Depression.

Depression can indicate the start of acceptance. It is normal to withdraw and contemplate the meaning of the relationship in solitude. Deep and lasting despondency, however, requires professional help.

Acceptance.

Now is the time to remember the good times. The daily reminders become a little less painful. You find that you can start to think about the future.

When Is It Time to Consider Another Pet?

A new pet is just that – a new animal that can never replace the pet you lost. If you decide to get another pet, you will be entering into an entirely new and different relationship. Be sure that you are psychologically, physically, and financially ready to commit the time and energy needed, without resentment or unrealistic expectations.

Where to Turn for Help

We encourage you to seek out support. Well-meaning friends who don’t understand the bond between you and your pet may say the wrong thing. Others may encourage you to quickly get another pet which can make expressing your pain even harder. It is important to realize that you are not alone. A support group can act as a wonderful resource for consolation and affirmation.

Local shelters often hold workshops and support groups to help people after pet loss.
Consider contacting your local shelter for information.

To find a support resources in Utah, we suggest the following:

Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss

Pet Loss Grief Support
Rainbow Bridge

Tiny Pet Memories
Resources for Counseling

Salt Lake County Animal Services

Comforting Children Who are Losing a Pet

Rabbit Cremation Services Utah
Very often, the death of a family pet is a child’s first encounter with death and dying, and is one of the hardest facts of life to explain. How it is handled can have a far-reaching impact on a child.

Younger children often view their relationship with a pet as indefinite and don’t understand that animals are on a different biological clock, or that illness or injury may make euthanasia the best option. Older children have a better understanding that all living things eventually die, and once the grief passes, can remember pets with more love than hurt.

At all ages, honesty is the best policy. It is advisable to use the words ‘death’ and ‘dying,’ and explain the permanence of death. You should do it gently but without confusing what dying actually means.

An Informal Guide to a Child’s Understanding of Death

A child’s ability to understand what death means depends on his/her emotional and cognitive development.
The following outline is a general guideline of how children perceive death and dying:

Under 2:

A child feels and responds to a pet’s death, based on the reaction of those nearby, and picks up the stress felt by family members, no matter what the cause.

2 to 5:

A child misses the animal as a playmate, but not necessarily as a love object. They will see death as a temporary state – something like the way leaves fall off a tree in the fall but grow back in the spring. As they perceive the trauma around them, however, they may regress in their behavior (e.g., thumb sucking).

5 to 9:

A child begins to perceive death as permanent, but may indulge in ‘magical thinking,’ believing that death can be defied or bargained with. This is when children recognize a correlation between what they think and what happens. For instance, a child may resent taking care of the pet and wish – however briefly – that the pet would die. If the pet then dies, the child can be consumed with guilt. Parents need to reassure children that they did not cause the pet’s death.
Kids And Pet Loss

10 and up:

A child generally understands that all living things eventually die and that death is total. Understanding and accepting are two different things, however. They may go through the normal stages of grief that grownups do: denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression, and acceptance. Or they may react in other ways:
A child may regress to outgrown behaviors such as sucking their thumb or temper tantrums
A child may withdraw from friends and family. Schoolwork may suffer and they may seem uninterested in other activities
A child may fear abandonment. If a pet can die, then they may reason that their parents could die as well
A child often become intensely curious about death and what happens to the body. They may ask for details that are uncomfortable to explain. These are questions that should answer in a straightforward, gentle, and careful manner

Comforting Words

Be open and honest.

Treating this delicate topic poorly can scar children for life. This includes the pet’s health and euthanasia. If a pet is terminally ill and needs to be euthanized, the parents need to tell the child as soon as possible, and questions should be answered. Use the words death and dying to make your meaning clear. Some children want to be present during euthanasia and most will be curious about the process. As for allowing the child to be present, some veterinarians are firmly against it; others say it depends on the child’s age and maturity.

Make sure your child understands what ‘dying’ means.

Explain that the animal’s body stopped working. Depending on your religious beliefs and what the child can understand, you might explain the concept of a soul. Most important, the child should know that the pet has died and will not be coming back.

Be available.

Take time to let your child discuss his/her feelings. You may want to hold your own service to memorialize the pet and to say goodbye formally. Some people plant trees in a special spot in the yard, others bury the pet in a cemetery so the family can visit. Encourage your child to show his/her feelings by talking or writing about the fun times they had with their pet.

Show your own feelings.

This tells your child that the pet was special and that they are not grieving alone. You can also encourage your child to open up, which helps the healing process.

Talk to the teacher.

Tell your child’s teachers about the loss, so they will understand why your child is behaving differently.
Children are very resilient, and they usually learn to accept their pet is gone. If a child persists with nightmares or seems unable to cope, however, it may be necessary to talk with a counselor.

Bad Ideas

The worst action is to lie and say the animal went away. Children will eventually learn the truth and lying can breed resentment and destroy trust between parent and child. Later in life, when the child learns the truth, they’ll wonder what else the parent lied about.

Don’t use euphemisms.

Euphemisms can cause anxiety or confusion because children take what you say literally. For instance:
If you say a pet is put to sleep, the child may suffer sleep anxiety
If you tell a child that the pet just ‘went away,’ the child will await the pet’s return, and upon learning the pet had been buried, will want to unearth the animal
If you say ‘God has taken your pet because he was special,’ the child may resent God, and fear who might be next

Don’t blame the veterinarian.

Some parents, especially those who fear explaining euthanasia to their children, find it easier to put it all on the vet. This is not only unfair to the veterinarian but potentially harmful to the child. He or she may grow up distrusting veterinarians and, by extension, doctors and other medical professionals. In addition, parents shouldn’t throw the decision on the veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help the parent explain why euthanasia may be the most humane option, and answer questions the child may have.

Don’t replace the pet too quickly.

Parents often want to ease their child’s hurt by rushing out and buying another pet. The last thing you want to do is convey the impression that the pet – a family member – is replaceable. Wait until the child expresses an interest in another pet.

Many thanks to Marty Tousley, a bereavement counsel with Pet Grief Support Services for her insightful analysis of handling grief felt by children.

Comforting Friends Who Have Losts Pet

How To Comfort Pet Loss

In times of tragic loss, many people reach out to their friends and family for sympathy, while others keep to themselves. Knowing how to support your friends during an emotional time makes them feel more at ease. With the right insight and knowledge, you can understand what type of griever they are and learn how to show compassion in the best way possible.

We hope to help guide you through helping your friends when they lose favorite pets, whether it’s sitting down and listening, or helping them find a positive outlet for their sorrows.

What Can I Do?

Initially, you should try to comprehend bereavement and learn about various kinds of grieving. The key is to be empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes, see their perspective, and recognize their emotions. Learning more about the kind of grief your friends express will help you better empathize with their sentiments.

Understand How People Project Grief

Grieving isn’t reserved for the loss of humans. Feeling emotionally vulnerable is natural when someone loses a pet. Your friends need to process their feelings and have enough time to grieve.

Sometimes the loss of a pet can be overwhelming. Your friends can cope by talking to someone, a friend, family member, or a grief counselor, or by asking about funeral arrangements from their veterinarian or local pet crematorium.

It’s imperative to understand that people mourn differently — there is no one-size-fits-all way to support someone. Sorrow is a natural reaction to losing something important and loved. People can grieve through physical, social, behavioral, or cognitive approaches. Mourning can be delayed, complicated, and chronic, and it can be masked, distorted and inhibited.

Ask What Is Need From You

Instead of assuming, ask what is needed or how you can help. If you’re willing to lend a hand, it can relieve a bit of stress. You may be able to help by completing daily tasks like grocery shopping, house cleaning or making dinner.

A grieving friend might also ask you to research pet burial arrangements because it’s a subject that may cause more emotional pain. If you’re willing and able, make any preparations according to their specific requests.
Some people may not want hands-on support and prefer personal space. They may feel comfortable doing things themselves instead of relying on someone else. That’s why it’s crucial to ask what you can do instead of assuming.

Provide Support Based on People Grieves

People usually experience a significant attachment to their dogs, cats, and other pets and undergo substantial grief reactions. Knowing how someone deals with heartache can help you be the best support system.

Some people may need time and space to recognize and deal with their feelings. These people will reach out if they need support. Although your friend may not want physical or verbal condolences, you can still show you care through less intrusive ways such as. sharing information about a local pet loss support group. Sending poems or quotes about losing a loved one or suggesting ideas on memorialize or celebrate the pet’s life may soothe their emotions. If your friend reaches out, offer to do different activities to help focus on positive aspects.

Some people choose distractions or resort to humor. Humor can often provide the same emotional release as crying.

Other types of grieving rely on friends and family for love and empathy. One of the best ways to respond is to ask your friend to share stories or to tell your fondest memories of their furry friend. Allowing someone to talk about their emotion and tell their favorite story a million times is a great way of responding.

Being there in a time of tragedy means you often listen more than you talk. If it feels natural, cry with them and show affection. Physical comfort, like holding hands or hugging, gives a feeling of comfort without having to say anything.

You can always bring something to help memorialize a pet, such as a plant, flowers, or a personalized gift. Bringing a favorite dish, cooking dinner, or helping set up a new routine can also be meaningful.

Listen and observe how your friend mourns. Then, provide the best care possible, depending on his or her wishes.

Grief Of A Pet Loss

Comforting Words

The best way to comfort someone is to console in person. Always mean what you say and stick with them, whether it takes a few weeks, months, or years because this validates their feelings.
Here are some ideas about what you can say:
Nothing I say can make you feel better, but I’m here for you.
I know you loved them dearly.
They were part of your family.
If there is anything I can do, please let me know.
What can I do to help you?
They were lucky to have you.
No matter what, I’ll be by your side.
Please know I’ll be thinking of you.
You can also recall positive memories and remember how their pet positively impacted your life – touch on how you will also miss their furry family member. If you write a sympathy card, display the same emotions and feelings of comfort as you would in-person. Your comforting words can reach further than you expect. Even offering to help with daily tasks can ease their grief.
Here are some ideas about comforting words you can send:
I’ve been thinking of you. How are you holding up?
I’m praying for you and your family.
I’m sorry for your loss. They will be missed.
They were lucky to have you as their owner and best friend.
Sending loving thoughts your way.
If you need to talk, I’m always here.
Wishing you peace and comfort during this difficult time.
Don’t hesitate to call me.
If you need to sit down and talk, let me know.
Losing a part of your family is never easy.
Sending a card or handwritten letter is more heartfelt and thoughtful. Try not to send messages through email or text because it’s less personal.

Bad Ideas

It’s easy to feel uncomfortable when someone is mourning, but it’s important not to say the wrong thing. Don’t try to fix the problem, give a pep talks, or offer advice. Let the process take its course and avoid using logic because it’s not comforting.
Here are some thoughts about what not to say:
Don’t use euphemisms
Don’t avoid saying the pet’s name
Don’t try to fill awkward silences
Don’t tell them, “It will be okay.”
Don’t say, “It’s for the best,” or, “Think of all the great memories.”
Don’t compare their pain to another’s
Don’t recommend they get another pet
Don’t say you understand how they feel, it’s always personal.
Don’t imply that time heals all wounds
Don’t say their pet is in a better place
Don’t compare their pet’s loss to your own experience
Don’t impose a timeline of feeling better
Supporting your friend after losing their best fur friend is all about knowing their needs and being genuine. Another pet will be adopted when their heart is ready to move on.
Bunny Cremation Services

A Helping Hand When It is Needed the Most

If needed, feel free to reach out to us and speak with one of our compassionate representatives or browse our services. We empathize with those who lose pets and are here to help through the grieving process.

Family Animal Services offers private cremation, group cremation, private viewing, bereavement support and in-home pickup for those who are experiencing a loss. As a pet memorial service, we are here to care for those who lose pets.