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When Your Pet Dies: 5 Ways to Cope

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It’s been a tough few weeks around here. 

Our beautiful, sweet dog Mae passed away.  Death is never easy, but when it’s an unexpected loss it’s hard to know what to do next.  When your beloved pet dies it’s difficult for everyone, kids and adults alike.

If you’re a pet owner here to find out how to cope, I’m so sorry for the loss of your furry (or not so furry) friend.  

Mae was part of our family for the past 2 1/2 years but boy it seemed like a lifetime.  

I know everyone says they had the best dog, and they’re right, but Mae was truly a delight.  Since we got her when she was already six we were well past the chewing and housetraining stages

She was a perfect fit for our family. 

She came into our lives at a difficult time.  When we were neck-deep in caring for my grandmother who had dementia, Mae lit things up.  She lived with us for 6 months before my grandmother passed and Grandma didn’t even know she lived here. LOL

Mae patiently wore costumes and had her nails painted. 

Sooo many song parodies in her honor.  “oops Mae farted again…I’m not that innocent”  “furry bottom, fleas, fleas, paws with the fur…Mer”

She was a constant companion of adventures, fortbuilding, and all things relating to food.

The unconditional love and emotional support a pet gives are absolutely one of this world’s blessings. And pet loss, is truly one of the worst.

Endlessly enduring modeling sessions choreographed by our daughter who has hundreds of photos in our phones, cameras, and many gracing Instagram under @lab_of_my_life on Instagram.

When she first came she was overweight but would politely sit away from the table.  We fixed that, terrible beggar she became. 🤦‍♀️

No matter if you wanted to nap or play she was your girl.

She even had a language all her own.  

Remember the Smurfs and how everything was turned into a “smurf” word?  It was like that.  

When she first arrived she wiggled and was likened to a mermaid.  Funny, since at the time we didn’t know how unlab-like she was towards the water.

After that, she somehow became “Mermie”  so everything was prefaced with “Merm”.  As in midnight shemermagains, mermalicious, and mermiepotamus.

And she knew it too.  When you spoke to her or about her she would answer in grunting piggie noises back and forth like a true conversation.

Even though she was almost nine, we never expected her to go so soon.  

She was diagnosed with Lyme disease last year.  She showed no obvious symptoms and since we did flea and tick treatments year-round and also gave her the vaccine we assume she got it before we adopted her.

With everything we know now based on her last week, we think Lyme Disease ruined her kidneys.

We thought she would turn around and I spent her last days sleeping next to her, giving her water by hand and singing to her while petting her and telling her how very special she was.

I will forever remember her by singing “I want a mermiepotamus for Christmas, only a mermiepotamus will do…”

When your pet dies

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#1 Grieve as You Need When Your Pet Dies

Allow yourself time to come to terms with the death of your pet. 

Your home will feel different.  You will forget it all happened and then remember again. 

Let yourself cry or yell.  Talk to friends and family. 

Let each person grieve in their own way.  Some kids may want to be alone, others may want to stay close to you.

Pet grieving is unique. People who don’t enjoy having pets don’t understand. Find other animal lovers to talk to about your feelings.

#2 Remember Your Pet

Decide where you would like your pet to be buried.  Whether at home, at a pet cemetery, or cremated, there is no wrong decision, it’s a very personal one.  Some crematoriums or animal care centers also offer clay paw prints.  

Look at pictures, make a video slide show, or draw a picture of your pet. 

Consider writing an obituary, poem, or story to read aloud with a personal memorial service in the yard to say goodbye.

Make a video, as we did, and post it on social media.

We chose to cremate her and have her ashes in a beautiful keepsake box.  Each of us will decide on a personal keepsake to have a part of her with us.


# 3 Don’t Rush to Get a New Pet

While you may want to fill the emptiness and silence take your time.  The grief process takes as long as it takes.

Again, this is extremely personal as to when is the right time. Family members may struggle with feeling they are dishonoring the pet that passed away by getting a new dog or cat right away.    

No matter how close you were to your pet, you may want one sooner than you think.  The kids all talked about getting a new dog within hours of Mae’s death.  And trust me, we couldn’t have loved or been missing anyone more. 

But we know how happy she made us and how happy we made her.  So knowing we could have this bond again is addictive. 

Things to consider when you think you’re ready.

  • Is your heart ready to accept a pet that isn’t the one you lost?
  • Is your lifestyle able to handle a different pet? 
  • Are you ready for new bad habits to break?
  • Is everyone in the house on board?

I found just looking at pets who so desperately need homes made me feel good.  Imagining each one in our home helped fill a bit of a void.  But we’re still taking it slow.  

If it’s too soon to open your home on a permanent basis, spend time volunteering at a local shelter or fostering a pet for a short while. How about becoming a pet sitter or dog walker?

#4  Take Care of Yourself to Move On.

It’s hard to accept that life goes on after death.  But as doggies know so well, life is meant to be lived.  If you work at home as I do, it’s particularly lonely all of a sudden. 

Find excuses to get outside.  If you normally walked your pet, don’t give up that daily dose of physical activity.  Find a friend or loved one who needs to get out too, or a neighbor’s dog who needs to walk.  

Be kind to yourself.

If you’re feeling down, reach out to friends and family, an online support group, or a therapist if you find you can’t cope.

When dealing with the loss of a pet what can you do to help you and your family grieve and remember your pet so you can move on and cherish the memories. #loss of pet #dogs #parenting

#5 Do Something in Memory of Your Pet

Plant a tree or donate to a shelter or The Humane Society. Some shelters have fundraisers that sell brick pavers in your pet’s name.   

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Finally, when your pet dies it can seem like you’ll be hurting forever. And in some ways, you will. But there’s always room for furry friends in our hearts when we’re pet lovers.

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When dealing with the loss of a pet what can you do to help you and your family grieve and remember your pet so you can move on and cherish the memories. #loss of pet #dogs #parenting

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Sunday 14th of January 2024

Thank you for sharing your story about Mae. She looks so sweet and loved. I have empathy for you. I’m going through the loss of my cat Riley Romeo. He got his wings October 5, 2023 at 4:09pm. I was in shock because I thought his insulin would be adjusted. I’ve been through this before. The humane choice isn’t what any pet owner wants to make. Plus, I had 4 females at home who would start grieving,too. They were hit hard. Riley was the glue to my girls even though the ages were spread out. He had 16. 5 yrs. It’s been a nightmare. He slept with me, on me and got me up to feed everyone. I really can’t wrap my head around the pain I feel. It comes in waves. Like reading about Mae. It breaks my heart for you. I feel your agony of losing her. It’s final. I though, would rather grieve than ever let my boy suffer. Our life isn’t the same and my cat Zoey has had the hardest time trying to find him in the house. They were just 2 years apart. All my cats were rescued. But, I was the one who really got rescued. Each time I think I’m saving one they are the ones who fill the gaps of love, pain, forgiveness etc…but when they go so does a piece of my soul. The guilt starts to fill up in my heart like it will explode from not doing enough. I love them so much and they enriched my life for the better. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

Laurie O'Rourke

Saturday 10th of February 2024

Hi Angie,

I'm so sorry about Riley Romeo. Pets really do take a piece of our soul. I've grieved over my pets more that I have over most people. They truly are angels on earth. And you couldn't be more right in saying they rescue us as much if not more than we do them. Praying you find comfort with Zoey and the other girls.


Tuesday 9th of January 2024

I lost my baby yesterday. She was not even 2 years old and that is what makes it so much worse. She had kidney failure and pankreatitis. We tried everything but seeing her in her last week made so sad. It's so empty now. I hope the pain will go away but right now I cant look at anything. Her empty dog basket just makes me cry. Thank you for your tips

Laurie O'Rourke

Wednesday 10th of January 2024

Oh my goodness, Alessia, that's so hard. I'm truly sorry to hear about the loss of your precious fur baby. It's incredibly heartbreaking to go through such a difficult time, especially surprising when she was still so young. Losing a furry friend is never easy, and the pain can be overwhelming.

Give yourself the space to grieve and feel the emotions. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who understand the depth of your connection.

Remember, healing takes time, and it's okay to take it one step at a time. Wishing you strength and comfort during this difficult period.


Saturday 4th of March 2023

I had two dogs that I had to put down the female star was 13 and the boy shady was 16 she went first she would not eat not even her fevered goody she looked at me to say I can`t eat it any more daddy, then she would get sick every time she drank water. the other dog was not eating also he sat by her bed waiting for her , and by her water dish for her to show up . it was very sad to see him sad , then two week after I put her down I had to put him down, I got a new dog the week after that a walker hound , female her name is Bella . I had to fill the space , and keep up with the normal tureen, I still think of the other dogs a lot and say a pear for them Evey night Sents they have been gone .

Laurie O'Rourke

Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Hi Gary, I am so sorry for the loss of your dogs, it's very hard but to go through it with both dogs so close in time must have been harder. Dogs surely miss their best friends as I am sure Shady missed Star terribly. I'm glad to hear you are enjoying Bella, dogs have wonderful healing powers and I hope she helps with that.

LeAnne Schultz

Monday 26th of December 2022

I had gotten my first fur baby Yeardley 5 years ago as a puppy. She was given to me by a friend. This last Friday I dropped her off at a friends kennel for an overnight stay so that I could run errands and do some cleaning for Christmas. I was nervous about leaving her, but the staff reassured me that she’d be fine. The next morning I got a call from the kennel owner telling me that the barn where the dogs were burned to the ground on the early morning of Christmas Eve. I’m completely devastated as Yeardley was my whole world. 😭😭😭

Laurie O'Rourke

Tuesday 27th of December 2022


I am so sorry about Yeardley. What a devastating loss of your poor fur baby. I hope you find comfort in your sweet memories of her. 💕


Thursday 7th of July 2022

I'm a first time fur momma I found the most perfect lill yorkie and fell in love with him fast, I took him every where. Everyone knows him. He was sooo cute. He was only 6 months old and he got sick last week. The vet didn't do a blood test or xray an said he had bronchitis n sent me away w antibiotics. I stayed home with him all that weekend Saturday he seemed a little better n declined. Monday I called a different vet an was taking him there. He passed kn the way in my car. My little yoga yorkie im heart broken 💔 I don't have any kids im 35 he was my baby. Like my boyfriend n is first kid. This sucks im ok but bed time n morning im so sad.

Laurie O'Rourke

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Hi Holly,

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your fur baby. What a young puppy to fall ill. May the memories of your sweet baby, though short, bring you comfort.

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