New Jersey mini-map with Saint Francis Veterinary Center marker
392 Kings Highway
Woolwich Township
New Jersey 08085
856.467.0050 Main
856.467.8668 Veterinarians

Grief Support

The loss of a pet can be one of the greatest emotional challenges we can experience. To many of us, a pet is a treasured member of our family. Despite this, our society lacks many of the traditional rituals that surround the grieving process when a human family member dies. In addition, not all people understand and respect the human-animal bond, and thus we may be subjected to thoughtless and hurtful comments from others who cannot empathize with what we feel as pet “parents”. We have compiled a list of helpful resources for those who are experiencing or anticipating grief.

WEBSITE RESOURCES:

General:

Children & Pet Loss:

End of Life Decision Making:

BOOK RESOURCES:

General:

  • Allen, Moira Anderson. Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC, 2007.
  • Lemieux, Christina M. Coping With the Loss of a Pet. Reading, PA: Wallace R Clark Co, 1989.
  • Nieburg, Herbert A; Fischer, Arlene. Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1998.
  • Lagoni, Laurel; Butler, Carolyn. The Human-Animal Bond and Grief. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 1994.
  • O’Neill, Eugene. The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company, 1999.
  • Quackenbush, Jamie; Graveline, Denise. When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope with Your Feelings. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1985.
  • Sife, Wallace. The Loss of a Pet. Hoboken, NJ: Howell Book House, 2005.

For Children:

  • Buscaglia, Leo. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages. Thorofare, NJ: Slack Incorporated, 1982.
  • Davis, Christine. For Every Cat an Angel. Portland, OR: Lighthearted Press, 2001.
  • Davis, Christine. For Every Dog an Angel. Portland, OR: Lighthearted Press, 2004.
  • Harris, Robie H. Goodbye Mousie. New York, NY: Aladdin, 2004.
  • Parker, Marjorie Blain. Jasper’s Day. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2002.
  • Rogers, Fred. When a Pet Dies. New York, NY: Puffin, 1998.
  • Rylant, Cynthia. Cat Heaven. New York, NY: Blue Sky Press, 1997.
  • Rylant, Cynthia. Dog Heaven. New York, NY: Blue Sky Press, 1995.
  • Viorst, Judith. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. New York, NY: Atheneum Books, 1987.
  • Wilhelm, Hans. I’ll Always Love You. Decorah, IA: Dragonfly Books, 1988.

PHONE & IN-PERSON RESOURCES:

Pet Loss Support Hotlines:

Grief Support Groups:

Mental Health/Emotional Support Hotlines:

WAYS TO MEMORIALIZE YOUR PET:

There are innumerable ways to pay tribute to a beloved pet. These are just a few suggestions.

  • A funeral or memorial service, attended by family and/or friends
  • A personalized urn or grave marker, such as the examples seen here: http://www.petmemorialservices.com/pages/our-products
  • Planting a tree, bush, or perennial flowers in memory of your pet
  • Create a collage, photo album or scrapbook of special memories of your pet
  • Write a story or obituary for your pet. One helpful product that can guide you through creating a tangible set of memories about your pet is: My Pet Remembrance Journal by Enid Traisman, Portland: DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, 2010.
  • Light a candle in memory of your pet. This can be literal or virtual. The website http://www.petloss.com/ has a candle ceremony for pet owners every Monday.
  • Create an online memorial for your pet (many websites offer this)
  • Ask your veterinarian to make a clay paw print of your pet (Saint Francis Veterinary Center offers this as part of our services)

You may make a memorial contribution to a pet friendly charity such as one of these:

Compiled April 2014 by Dr. Tabitha Hutton Last updated 4/28/14