Taking care of yourself after the loss of a pet

March 5, 2024by sacvalleyvet

Taking care of yourself after the loss of a pet

Sacramento Valley Veterinary Services

Sacramento In Home Pet Euthanasia

Sacramento Mobile Pet Euthanasia

Taking care of yourself after the loss of a pet

Grief and coping with pet loss can look very different in all of us. Picking up the pieces after a major life change like the loss of a family member can feel impossible, but healing starts with taking care of ourselves. Each and every member of our team has all gone through the difficulty of pet loss. Here are a few suggestions that we have found helpful and will hopefully help you in your grief journey.

  1. Communicate with peers.

 Grief is hard, don’t go it alone. Communicate that you need support or that you’re not doing well to people you trust and let your friends and family love you. It can be easy to become reclusive in times of depression and while we can sometimes benefit from time alone to reflect, know that leaning into people is also important. Confiding in people that also have animals or maybe have experienced the loss of a pet themselves can be great help since they most likely understand what you’re going through.

  1. Memorialize your pet.

 We welcome you to see our previous blog here about different ways to do this! There are so many beautiful ways to honor your recent pet such as making a keepsake craft, planting a garden, or volunteering at a shelter. Honoring and memorializing loved ones can be a beautiful way to find closure.

  1. Get moving.

Exercise has been proven to increase serotonin and dopamine, those feel-good chemicals in the brain. It can be hard to motivate for a serious workout so while working up a sweat is fantastic, don’t be hard on yourself if a simple walk is all you can muster. Light weights, a little yoga or stretching can also help you reap the benefits.

  1. Step outside.

Mother Nature has a powerful way of reminding us to be present. Breathe some fresh air and listen to the wind in the trees. Soak in some sunshine, feel the breeze on your face or let a few raindrops hit your skin. Smell some flowers, get your hands in the soil. The outdoors can be a powerful healer.

  1. Be around animals.

This can be difficult when you’ve just lost a pet, but chances are since you’re an animal person, you know how soothing critters can be. Science has proven repeatedly that animals help lower our blood pressure, reduce our anxiety and depression. Go walk dogs at a shelter, volunteer to hang out with the cats. Ask family members and friends with pets if you can come over and be around their pets. Equine therapy is huge if you have that option local to you.

  1. Maintain personal health.
  1. Get creative.

Releasing those big emotions into something artistic can be a great outlet. Swing through a craft store and find some inspiration with a simple art kit.  An inexpensive pack of colored pencils and a coloring book can even be soothing. You may even investigate that ceramics or painting class you’ve always wanted to try.

  1. Start writing/journaling.

Writing is a cathartic experience. Write a letter to your pet or get some of your favorite memories on paper. You may even try a gratitude journal- start each day by writing down 3 things you are grateful for. They can be as meaningful as a loved one in your life, or as simple as the clothes you have on your back. Remind yourself despite the recent loss you just experienced there is still so much to appreciate and to be grateful for.

  1. Meditate. Repeat.

While this seems silly, breathwork and meditation are the simplest, cheapest, most readily available medicine you can take in the face of anxiety. The internet is full of diverse breathing and meditation exercises. You can even seek out classes nearby-bonus for getting out of the house!

  1. Get professional help.

We are fortunate enough to live in a world today where getting professional help is not only becoming more normalized, but also encouraged. There are people around us that have committed their lives to helping people navigate emotional difficulty and it is easier than ever to connect with mental health professionals. Counselors who specialize in coping with grief following pet loss are available in our area.

If you are struggling with grief from pet loss, know you are not alone. Grief can feel like an absolute storm. A storm that changes and shifts and is occasionally tolerable and sometimes unbearable. It comes in waves and can sometimes feel impossible to get your head above water. However, the only way out of a storm is to go through it, so we hope you find a few life-rafts on this list that resonate you while you navigate this difficult time. You can also check out more tips for self care after pet loss at the UC Davis website. Lastly, remember, you’ll never “get over” your pet you’ve recently lost, but the storm will eventually get better, and you will be ok.

Ashley Froschauer, RVT


West Coast Memorial Services

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine



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