How I Endure when Grieving Pets

Monday, October 9, 2023


So if you've been a long time reader and you follow me on social media, you've likely seen I've lost all of my original 4 chihuahuas.  We lost Stella unexpectedly at 10.5 years old in July of 2020. In July of 2022 we lost Pixie (my first dog ever) at just shy of 17 years old.  And then of course in February 2023 we lost Rocky at the age of 18 years and 8 months.  And finally, on September 1st, 2023, I lost Grace just after her 16th birthday. That's a lot of loss in a 3 year period and many have asked how I managed to survive. So today, I'm sharing some of the ways I coped in the hopes that it can help others feel strong enough to endure their losses.

I give myself time to grieve.
I don't care what else is going on in my life, I reserve the right to take time off work and away from social responsibilities to let myself experience my grief. There truly is no other way through it but to GO THROUGH IT.  I let myself cry as loud and as often as I need to.  I sort of just let myself exist.  I do the bare minimum. I take care of my other pets, drink water, and just sit and feel my feelings. It is certainly not fun but after about 2-3 days of this, I feel stronger as if I'm ready to continue moving on through the grief. 

I surround myself with the memories. 
I will carry around their toys, clothes, and blankets to give me comfort.  Do I look like a maniac? Maybe. Do I care? No! Grief is a unique journey for each individual that experiences it.  This is just the way it works for me. 

I give myself tasks. 
I usually make a small to do list relating to my pet.  Some of the items on it include getting my favorite photos printed of them to put on their memorial altar, arranging and decorating their altar, cleaning their bedding, etc. 

I write an obituary. 
So we have a place that cremates pets in our area, Peaceful Pet Passage.  They give you the chance to submit a little obituary to them to post on their social media with a photo of your bet. It is very healing for me to write these little tributes out.  I feel I'm honoring my pet when I do this.  If you don't have a place that allows this, just post when on your own social media anyways.  

I still eat. 
Although I don't have an appetite, I force myself to eat at least two small meals each day while my grief is at it's heaviest.  That may just be some crackers or it could be having a fresh meal delivered.  But it's important to eat.  It's also immensely important to hydrate, even if you can't eat.  From all the crying, you'll be especially dehydrated.  Just take small sips throughout the day. 

I surround myself with love and support. 
I don't feel ashamed to admit that I'm going through something major and because of that, I give friends and family the opportunity to reach out to comfort me.  It makes me feel less alone. Besides, most of them know my pets so they feel sad too! 

I let myself laugh. 
I will do my best to get together with friends or neighbors and allow myself to have a good time. But I also give myself grace that if it's too much, I will excuse myself.  I don't allow myself to feel bad for laughing while I'm sad. After all, I'm sure my pets would rather me be happy still than forever sad and depressed. 

These are just a few things I do.  Again, grief is a unique journey for everyone. It doesn't matter what you're grieving - a person, a dog, a mouse, a marriage... grief is grief.  Grief is universal. It's a natural thing and it's basically a measure of love that has no place to physically go anymore.  I will also say - the more I experience it, the better I am with coping. That does not at all mean it gets any easier, it just means I am better equipped to handle my grief and experience it. 

I hope this post can help at least one person struggling.  I promise, you will laugh and smile again someday. It may feels like you'll never move on, but you will find strength when you're ready and be able to push forward, even with the pain.

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