Find Pet Grief Support

If you are struggling with the loss of a pet, pet grief support can help ease your pain. Learn more about finding a pet grief support counselor.

According to a study by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) there are over ninety million families, or 70 percent of households, with at least one pet. This is a five percent increase from 2019. Pets are a wonderful way to improve your health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It is also a safe way to deal with loneliness and instruct children about responsibility. Most pet owners become attached to their pets, making it difficult to process what happens after losing a pet.

Some pet owners are afraid to discuss their grief after losing a pet because they are concerned it will sound unreasonable. Feeling hurt, upset or even angry after losing a pet is perfectly normal. Pets spend years acting as companions. Having to suddenly adjust to not having your pet around is a complicated process. If you are struggling with the loss of your pet, consider seeking out pet grief support to get through this difficult period.

Individual vs. Group Pet Grief Support

While there are many different techniques to help process the loss of a pet, there are two primary types of pet grief support. With individual support, you work directly with a grief counselor to work through your feelings. In a group setting, you participate with other individuals who recently lost pets, with the group overseen by a counselor. Both individual and group support is available in-person or online, while individual counseling may also be available over the phone.

Which method you choose depends on your personal preference. Some individuals have an easier time sharing their grief in a secluded setting. However, for others it is easier to process their feelings if they see they are not the only one struggling. A group setting also provides an additional level of support, with members often sharing contact information so they can stay in touch if they are having difficult periods, but this is not a requirement.

While there are some free resources available, most professional services charge a fee for pet grief support. The fee will vary depending on where you live and the counselor, but it is typically around $20 to $30 per session. 

Processing your Emotions

The focus of pet grief support is to help you process all the emotions you are feeling. While sadness is the most common emotion after losing a pet, it is not the only one. Some pet owners are frustrated or angry, feeling like it is unfair they lost their pet, or even blaming themselves for not being able to do more. Losing a pet can also lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, or helplessness. 

Pet grief support provides a safe space for you to discuss all the emotions you are feeling. Whether in an individual or group setting, you also have a counselor who can help talk you through whatever you are feeling. This is especially helpful for children, who have otherwise never had to process loss before.

Part of processing your emotions and addressing your grief is finding a way to settle back into a routine. In many cases, the hardest part of losing a pet is trying to adjust to living at home without the pet present. Even something as small as no longer feeding your pet before you go to sleep can cause sadness, making it difficult to fall asleep at night.

Common Pet Grief Support Methods

There are many different techniques to process the loss of a pet. Which method your counselor uses depends on his or her preferences, as well as your own. Many counselors will spend the first part of a session getting to know you to find out which techniques seem most effective. There are a few common traits among treatment.

First, counselors will get you to talk about your lost pet. This may be difficult, but it is an important part of processing your feelings. Talking about your feelings is also an effective way to show your counselor exactly what you are going through. He or she may recognize emotions you are not even aware you are feeling. For example, your frustration may be causing you to lash out at others without you even realizing it.

Your counselor will also ask you how the loss is affecting the rest of your life. Depending on what else is going on, your counselor may conclude that, while you are hurting from the loss of your pet, your depression is also being caused by other factors. 

If you are interested in getting a new pet but are feeling guilty, your counselor will discuss whether you are actually ready for a new pet, or if you are trying to rush to fill the void of your loss.

The Right Time for Pet Grief Support

A common misconception is you can only get pet grief support if you recently lost a pet. Some of the most stressful situations involve pet owners who are trying to treat a sick pet, but ultimately know they are going to have to put the pet down. This is a difficult time, and if you are having trouble reaching a decision, you can schedule an appointment for a pet grief counselor to help you make a decision.

You can also see a pet grief counselor long after you lost your pet. In some situations, it takes weeks or even months to fully register a loss. Other times, something specific may trigger your feeling of grief, such as a change of seasons and not being able to take your pet for a walk in the park like you used to.

Finding Pet Grief Support

There are several options to find pet grief support. First, ask your friends or family members if they have any recommendations. This is a safe way to find a reliable counselor. If your friends or family cannot help, another good option is to ask your vet for recommendations. If neither of these options are available, there are several online resources to help you find pet grief support counselors.

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement is a nonprofit group with extensive resources for overseeing the loss of a pet, including a list of recommended support options. The Argus Institute also contains resources for pet loss resources, including a list of books to walk you through the loss of a pet.