8 Comforting Thoughts to Help You Through the Death of Your Pet
There’s no guidebook to grief and loss — but these kind words will help.
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If you’ve ever experienced any sort of loss, you know all too well that there are no words to make the pain any better. That doesn’t change when the loss is your dog and your best friend of (hopefully) many years.
But there is a difference between saying goodbye to your beloved pup and saying goodbye to a beloved person (not to say that one is harder than the other). Human relationships are complicated, can change day to day, and vary greatly, but animal people all know and understand the profound bond we share with our pets, says Colleen Rolland, a pet loss grief specialist and president of the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement. “It’s a common ground of unconditional love,” she says. In that way, the heartbreak is at least slightly more universal — which, bright side, means we can all help each other out.
In fact, some of the following quotes are actual DMs I received from strangers when I had to put The Best Dog in the World to sleep three years ago. Rolland also shares some words that she and her team tell people as they navigate one of the worst moments of their lives. These comforting thoughts helped me move through my grief little by little. I hope they help you, too, when the time comes. And, if that time is right now, I’m sending you a big hug.
“Losing a dog makes you more appreciative of the time you have with the next one. More appreciation equals more love for all the dogs who have yet to come — and every dog deserves the most love possible.”
“The intense pain you feel is directly related to the amount of love you had for your dog. Trust that, in time, the intense pain will return back to feelings of love and appreciation. Find the gratitude in those immense feelings.”
“The death of a dog is a lot like becoming a widow. But widows do find love again. It might just be an equal — but different — kind of love.”
“When the loss feels unfair, remind yourself that when you love someone or something, you could never have enough time with it. Even a lifetime wouldn’t be enough time. And there’s beauty in that amount of love.”
Kind Thoughts From Strangers in My DMs (thank you, strangers!)
“Every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them. Every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be a dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”
“Maybe dogs live such short lives so humans can have time with as many of them as possible before we leave the Earth, too.”
“The end sucks so much, but remember it is just a blip relative to the life you shared together. Nothing can erase all those happy memories.”
“In your dog’s eyes, they got to spend seven times the amount of time with you as you did with them. How lucky they were to have been loved so much, and for so long!”
Know, too, that there are resources out there to help you through the grieving process. Rolland suggests finding a therapist trained in grief (some specialize in pet loss specifically), or connect with a support group at your local vet or through the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. Just because you might be lonely without your pup doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone.
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Marissa Gainsburg is a writer, editor and content strategist who recently traded East Coast humidity for West Coast waterfalls (and wildfire smoke). She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her thru-hiker boyfriend (how cliché) and their freakishly intelligent Aussie, Miley. She previously covered all things wellness and lifestyle as the features director at Women's Health. Her work has also appeared in Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Men's Health.