Pet grief and loss support group
When we lose an animal companion, we lose a friend and a member of our family. Animals who share our lives provide a special kind of companionship, unconditional love and support. The grief we feel can be as intense, and sometimes more distressing, than losing a human friend or family member.
This page helps to explain the unique experience of the loss of a companion animal and the ways you can take care of yourself and your loved ones during those rough spots of grief.
Is my grief normal?
When your pet dies you may feel a range of complicated feelings. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no specific time frame, and our grief experiences are individual and unique.
Feelings of shock, denial, searching, yearning, disorientation, guilt, anger are all common responses, and you may feel your eating and sleeping patterns change. You may not feel as social as normal and find yourself thinking about your pet a lot of the time.
If you made the decision to euthanise your pet because it was suffering, you may be asking if you did the right thing, or if your pet suffered.
You may also experience anticipatory grief with feelings of dread, guilt, anxiety and/or loss while caring for your pet.
Missing / stolen pets
If your pet is missing there may be uncertainty around whether you pet is dead or alive.
There may still be hope of your pet being found or returned and this can add an extra dimension to your grief.
If you feel grief is significantly impacting on your day to day functioning over an extended period of time, talk with your GP about sourcing extra support.
What is disenfranchised grief?
Disenfranchised grief describes a type of loss that is minimised by society. Sometimes people try to help with our grief by telling us not to be troubled, such as “Oscar was just a dog and you can always get another one".
It is important to remember what your pet meant to you and there is no reason to feel that your grief is not justified. You may reply with “yes, but he was my best friend”.
Strategies to help.
Pet loss resources
Pet Loss - downloadable brochure
Pet Loss Books for adults
Pet Loss books for children
Learning to cope with pet grief
Coping with losing a pet
Pet friendly aged care
Pet Loss and the Elderly Presentation Paper (2012)
Pets and People interview
How to get over the loss of a pet - Ruth Ostrow
Why we should start recognising the loss of a pet as real grief - Jill Stark
Pets and People
Counsellors trained in grief/loss of companion animals
T: 1300 431 450 (counselling rates apply)
Animal Welfare League Australia
Passing Paws Pet Cremations
Offer monthly empathy group (Perth)
Centre for Loss and Grief (NSW)
There are many organisations around Australia who offer pet cremation and memorial services.
Your vet may be able to suggest local services, or search the web for postal orders of memorial items such as keepsakes.
Lawnswood Pet Crematorium and Cemetery
21 Stanford Way, Malaga, WA 6090
T: (08) 9248 6464
Perth Pet Cremation
U1, 95 Bannister Rd, Canningvale WA 6155
T: 9455 1180
T: (02) 4382 4439
Casting Keepsakes Perth
T: 0431 239 999 / 0410 923 959
Silver Pet Prints
T: 0433 848 566
Orchard Valley Pet Caskets
T: (08) 9834 1168