Pet Loss: Finding Peace for A Broken Heart

Life can be really tough sometimes. Nothing can rip your heart out in quite the same way as losing someone you love. That someone could be a human or a pet. When it comes to love and grief, there are no rules.

If you’ve lost a friend and your heart is broken, read on. This post is for you.

Please know, your loss is legitimate and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Pay no mind to anyone who minimizes your loss because your friend wasn’t human.  A broken heart is a broken heart.

I can help you find peace, but you’ll have to open your mind and your heart a little bit. Hear me out and meet me here with the spirit of open curiosity.

Respect your Pet, Respect his Death

Your pet was his own creature, a fully autonomous living breathing creature. His birth, his life, and his death belong to him and him alone. One of the reasons that pet death hits us so hard is because we feel like we own our pets. We think they belong to us, and we view them as an extension of ourselves. When they die, a part of us dies as well. The experience of their death, and the story that we tell ourselves about it, can become more about us than them.

By taking a step back and seeing your pet as an independent creature, you can start to see him as a companion, a friend, an equal, rather than an accessory. He lived every moment of his own life. He had thoughts, likes, dislikes, desires, adventures- all kinds of experiences that you didn’t know about and weren’t a part of.

Living with you was part of your pet’s life, but it wasn’t the whole picture. Just as your best human friend’s life path isn’t about you, your pet’s life wasn’t about you either. You were companions- two creatures that bumped into each other on this crazy planet and decided to stick together. Acknowledging this allows you to regard your pet’s life with a respect that you might not have considered before.

Your Pet Lived the Exactly Perfect Number of Days

Once you are in a mindset for respect toward your pet and his own individual story, you’re able to find respect for all the different parts of his story. Would you say that he was born at the wrong moment? That he should have been a different breed, had a different personality? Would you say that about a human you loved? Of course not.

A person’s, or pet’s, life path is the culmination of all the moments that made their life unique and special. Just as it isn’t up to us to say that our friend’s birth or life was wrong, it’s also not our place to judge our pet’s death.

Your friend’s story was written in the stars long before you ever laid eyes him. He lived exactly the number of days he was supposed to live, exactly as his story was planned.  It was always going to happen this way, from the very beginning. He had a right to live his story, and he had a right to die according to it.

You loved him so much while he was alive. Show him love in death as well. Even if his death didn’t happen the way you would have planned it, show your loyalty to him by accepting and honoring his path.

Death Isn’t Optional

If you still can’t stop feeling that you didn’t want your pet to die, consider this- it wasn’t optional.

Resisting the idea of death is an exercise in insanity. Life and death go hand-in-hand. Saying that you didn’t want your pet to die is the same thing as saying you didn’t want your pet to live, and that just isn’t true. By wanting your pet to have lived, you also must want your pet to die. It is built in. Once again, death = not optional.

Life is so dearly precious to us, but we regard death with such disdain. The truth is that these two are inseparable forces. They are two sides of the same coin. Honoring your friend means allowing space to consider that maybe his story was perfect, exactly as it happened, even if it hurt you.

If you can stretch your mind around this concept, of respecting and loving your pet so much that you are willing to step back with your own emotions and give him your blessing to live out his destiny, his one natural precious life exactly as it was intended, you can find peace.

Don’t Mistake Love for Sadness

You might feel like you’re experiencing an overwhelming sadness. But look again. Sometimes what we perceive as sadness is just love in disguise, an overwhelming love for a companion that was so dear to you, an overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to know your friend.

By identifying your feelings as love rather than sadness, you won’t need to push away thoughts or memories of your pet in order to protect yourself. You can lean into that love, and lean into the memories of your friend. You can cherish those memories as continued moments that you get to spend together. Choosing love over sadness is a way to honor your pet and all of the joy that he brought you.

All Great Things Never Really Die

I know that I just told you that everything dies eventually. And it’s true that in the physical sense, everything will pass away. Your pet’s physical body might have perished, but the true essence of what made him alive was never part of his body anyway, was it? It was so much more than that. It is so much more than that.

His spirit, his affect on your world, the relationship between you, the magic of what made him him, it wasn’t created with his birth, and it can’t be destroyed by his death. The reason it feels so wrong that your pet is gone, is because he isn’t gone. This perceived separation between the living and the dead seems so huge. It breaks our hearts, but it isn’t real. Everything that mattered between you and your pet still matters, exactly the same. Untouched. He still gets to be him, even though he died. And you still get to be you. What love creates, death cannot break.


DISCLAIMER: This website does not render medical advice. I am not a mental health professional. I share the methods that have worked for me and I truly hope they work for you, but I cannot guarantee any specific results. 

6 thoughts on “Pet Loss: Finding Peace for A Broken Heart

  1. Thank you for this article and placing my jumbled emotions into perspective. I really needed to read this.
    My own pet, a big black 12 yr. old Lab named Penny, died on Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Her death
    hit me especially hard, and I’ve been trying to understand why. It isn’t like I’ve lost other pets before, over the years.
    May be it is that I’m 56 years old and my own mortality is creeping up on me. I don’t know. That date was also the
    21st anniversary of my own father’s death. The last three days have been stomach churning and tearful.
    Thank you for letting me share.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks for reading. It sounds like you love Penny very much, and I find that so beautiful. Thank you for sharing her with me. Sending you wishes for peace.

  2. I am sad just thinking about my wonderful pets some have passed and you never forget them, I cry when I think about my friends, I am not a people person and relate to my pets as my best friends, they are always waiting for me and happy to see me, God takes care of our wonderful friends.

  3. The most beautifully and thoughtful article I have read on this subject. I have been desperately seeking this as I know it all to be so true and needed somebody out there to validate my beliefs and help in this awful time. This hit my heart as I lay here with my dying best friend, he has been so strong for me and made me who I am, so I will always honour that and be so grateful for that and be my strongest for him. It’s truly amazing how these furry souls can touch our lives so deeply, and I am forever grateful to this little one for every moment we had together, death can not change that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to write this. With love from Kait and her soulmate for eternity, Chubbers.

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