Pet Loss Support Groups

Pet loss support groups offer a way for grieving pet owners to find comfort and help each other through an extremely difficult event: the death of a pet.

These groups can be helpful to owners who are having difficulty working through the loss of their pet. You may choose to participate in one as an adjunct to individual grief counseling, or you may find that talking over your experiences with other pet owners helps you grieve without seeking further counseling.

Knowing that you are not alone in feeling the loss of your pet is one of the best reasons for attending a support group. Family members and friends may or may not understand how important your pet was to you, so they may or may not be able to help you grieve.

Support Group Sponsors Vary Around the Country

Support groups meet weekly, twice monthly or monthly, based on the needs of the members. Some groups are led by professional counselors and therapists, while others are led by devoted pet lovers. The groups are forums for discussion about pet ownership and loss, and they are designed to help pet owners work through the grieving process. Many times, the group leaders have suffered the loss of a pet themselves, and this loss often is the motivation behind starting the support group.

Depending on where you live, your pet loss support group may be sponsored by a local veterinary clinic, a psychology or psychiatry practice, a veterinary school or a humane society or animal shelter.

If you live in an area that doesn’t current have support group meetings, you may be able to find help on the Internet. Online support groups offer pet owners around the world a chance to talk through their grief with blogs, memorial pages and other virtual tributes to their beloved companion animals. Social networking sites like Facebook even offer online pet loss support pages that may provide comfort to a grieving owner.

Other Ways to Remember Your Pet

To help you grieve, you may find some of the following activities helpful:

  • Hold a memorial service for your pet. Invite family, friends and members of your veterinary clinic staff to share their memories of your pet.
  • Create a memorial for your pet. This can be a special stepping stone in the garden, a tree planted in your pet’s favorite resting spot or another outdoor memorial.
  • Assemble a scrapbook or photo collage. Organizing photos of you and your pet can help you remember the good times you shared. Someday, you’ll enjoy the memories the photos trigger. If you’re knowledgeable about computers, you may want to create a website or memorial page as a tribute to your pet that fellow pet owners can also appreciate.
  • Write a poem or tribute for your pet, or journal your grieving process. Writing can be therapeutic, even for people who don’t think they write well.
  • Donate to an animal charity in your pet’s memory. This act not only helps you remember your pet, but it also helps other animals in need.